Minorities earn more working in the public sector

Full-time wages in public sector jobs are 2.3% higher

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OTTAWA – A new report says it pays to work in the public sector — especially if you’re a minority.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that overall, full-time wages in public sector jobs are 2.3 per cent higher than those in the private sector.

But it also found that government workers who are female, Aboriginal, or belong to a visible minority group do much better from a relative wage standpoint than their counterparts at private companies.

For example, it found that university-educated women in the public sector make 18 per cent less their male counterparts, but that gap widens to 27 per cent in the private sector.

Meanwhile, university-educated Aboriginal workers earn 14 per cent less in the public sector than their non-Aboriginal peers, versus 44 per cent less if they were employed in the private sector. And university-educated visible minority workers are paid 12 per cent less in the public sector than their non-visible minority counterparts, but that widens to a 20 per cent gap in the private sector.

The report, titled Narrowing the Gap: The Difference That Public Sector Wages Make, credited several factors for the lower wage discrepancies in the public sector, including pay equity legislation and the fact that government jobs are more likely to be unionized.

Better access to benefits like paid parental leave, family leave and sick leave has also helped narrow wage discrimination in the public sector.

“None of these elements are found exclusively in the public sector,” said the report’s authors, Kate McInturff and Paul Tulloch.

“However, the public sector has a higher concentration of all three factors — with higher rates of unionization, family leave benefits and the legislated monitoring and regulation of pay equity,” they said.

The 30-page report used data from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada for its findings.

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