Private sector workers in Hawaii make half of what county workers make, on average, according to research from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Data compiled by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that county worker pay across all islands averages over $80,000 per employee when benefits are included.

Hawaii private sector workers, on the other hand, make significantly less than county employees, on average, as well as significantly lower than the national average.

Keli’i Akina, President and CEO of the Grassroot Institute, said, “The average county public employee makes double what the average private sector worker in Hawaii makes, yet taxpayers are funding the majority of public sector increases in salaries and benefits.”

Akina continued, “Hawaii middle-class residents, struggling with stagnant incomes in one of the nation’s weakest economies, can no longer afford to subsidize union leader calls for unrealistic benefits.

“The fact that Hawaii taxpayers make the lowest wages in the nation when adjusted for cost of living, while county workers make among the highest, should bring pause to leaders involved in union negotiations.”

Akina added, “It’s in the best interest of all Hawaii citizens to provide salary, health benefits and pension benefits that are both affordable for state workers and taxpayers. Instead of increasing public worker benefits dramatically, the state should work to bring its employees’ total compensation more in line with what the private sector can afford.”