We are approaching the holiday commemorating the day when, as Abraham Lincoln might have said, eleven score and eighteen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. So I thought I’d check some data to see how the different classes in our classless society are making out. According to Local Area Personal Income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2012 those working in the Finance and Insurance Sector in Manhattan (aka Wall Street) earned (or at least got) an average (mean) of $263,979 each in wages, salaries and non-wage benefits such as employer contributions to retirement funds and health insurance. This data, unlike most you see, includes the self-employed. The average for all the other private sector workers in Downstate New York, including top executives and the highest paid workers in sectors outside finance, was $74,306. The average for state and local government workers in Downstate New York was $100,352.
But not all state and local government workers are created equal, it would seem. According to Education Finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as I showed here New York City spent $272,500 in instructional (mostly teachers) wages and benefits per 20 students – by that comparison more than the average for Wall Street. Based on data reported in the FY 2013 Comprehensive Annual Report of the New York City Police Pension Fund and the FY 2013 Budget Summary from the NYC Office of Management and Budget, the average NYC police officer cost $212,220 in wages and benefits – far closer to Wall Street than to average New Yorkers. Similar sources put the average cost per NYC firefighter at $229,140. According to the National Transit Database, the average employee of New York City transit cost $137,646 in wages and benefits in FY 2012, less than the teachers, police officers and firefighters but still nearly double the average non-Wall Street worker in downstate’s NY private sector. The average Long Island Railroad worker cost even more, at $162,851. It’s a tale of three cities, but no one tells it because the first two classes are the people one needs to suck up to in order to get ahead, and the third does not matter. Some charts and additional commentary on what this means may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”