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TV Reality Check: 'NCIS' Is All Wet on Public-Sector Salaries

"NCIS" may be the one of the most popular TV crime shows on the air, but it is off the mark when it comes to a discussion about public-sector compensation in a recent episode.

In episode 11, “The Newborn King,” the character Jimmy Palmer shows his future father-in-law around the office. The father-in-law doesn’t like Palmer’s public-sector job, where he is an assistant during autopsies.

“He actually thinks I am stuck in some government job that pays too little and requires too many hours,” Palmer tells his colleagues of his father-in-law to be.

“You are,” Special Agent Jethro Gibbs interjects.

The father-in-law, who owns a funeral home and is a “professional mortician,” tells Palmer at one point: “You do know there are jobs in the private sector where you could make twice as much money and still be home by 6, right?”

Although occupational pay varies from job to job, on average public-sector employees actually do much better than the private sector.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, current average compensation for state and local government jobs is $40.76 per hour, or about $84,781 per year. The current average private-sector total compensation is $28.24 per hour, or about $58,739 a year. When adding in other public-sector benefits like health care and pensions, the disparity is even greater.

Those numbers from the BLS don’t include federal workers, but USA Today released its own analysis in 2010 that showed federal workers earned twice as much as their private-sector counterparts.


See also:

Benefits In Balance: How to Save Michigan $5.7 Billion Annually

Helpful Facts About Michigan's Public Sector