State employee salaries are more than 6 percent lower than those in comparable states and 21 percent below private market jobs, said a comprehensive state compensation study commissioned by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services and released Friday.
The study was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature and was conducted by private companies Kenning Consulting and the Hay Group. It also found state benefits are more than 24 percent higher than those in comparable state governments.
Among the study's recommendations is appropriating an additional $41.1 million in state dollars to employee pay and exploring ways to reinvest benefit resources.
“This study gives the state a starting point for a productive, fact-based discussion about redesigning the employee compensation system so Oklahoma can recruit, reward and retain a quality workforce to serve its citizens,” said Preston L. Doerflinger, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director.
Sterling Zearley, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, said the study confirms state employees are underpaid but cautioned against reducing benefits. Zearley said something needs to be done, otherwise the state's best employees won't be working in the public sector.
“With competitive salaries, state agencies will be better equipped to keep good employees as well as recruit and retain quality staff,” Zearley said. “If we don't improve state employees' pay, good applicants will continue to go elsewhere for jobs.”