Oregon State Employees Underpaid

A quick look at the salaries posted on the State of Oregon Jobs page demonstrates clearly that our state workers are grossly underpaid. Here are some examples:

Administrator — Office of Safety & Permanency for Children – $116,000 per year

Corrections Physician Specialist – $208,056 per year

ODOT Project Manager – $82,600 per year

Elections Director – $127,884 per year

Natural Gas Program Manager – $91,020 per year

Senior Policy Analyst — Department of Energy – $71,832 per year

Pharmacist — Oregon State Hospital – $110,592 per year

With wages this low I am not certain these needed positions will even be filled. I call on the governor and the legislature to bump these salaries up to what is more in line with the private sector so we can get quality people in our state positions.

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Posted by at 06:26 | Posted in Measure 37 | 24 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Doug

    You are right, Jerry. These are low numbers. No wonder the state has such a hard time getting people to even apply.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    And before we hear any complaints about comparisons to what these jobs would pay in the private sector, lets realize the responsibility level involved, i.e. not a lot. Next time I hear of a project manager for ODOT being fired because of cost over runs or an elections director being fired because of registered dead people I might change my mind.

    Senior policy analyst for DOE?

    I mean is that seriously a job? I was unaware Oregon had an energy policy other than dismantling of current working energy sources and subsidizing sources that are of a nature to satisfy Ted’s “fascination” with technology.

    Elections director?

    job one – Check with secretary of state to asses disqualification of ballot initiative.
    job two – Strictly asses voter registrations in rural areas for qualification, coordinate voter registration drives in Portland.

    Sounds very close to trained orangutan work.

    • Anonymous

      And just who might be the Oregon Elections Director? Hmmmm
      Might that be the Saintly John Lindback

  • John Fairplay

    A friend of mine is one of the top hemotological cancer docs in Oregon. He does not make what the “Corrections Physician Specialist” earns. I am going to suggest he apply, as the health insurance and retirement will also be better.

    • green eyeshades

      The real info is below. Note that the real salary offered is a range. Also, it appears to be an executive type position, i.e. a medical director.

      The Correction’s Physician Specialist directs the Health Services program at an institution to provide care and treatment to inmates during incarceration.

      $12,332 – $17,338 MONTHLY

      $147,984 — $208,056


  • Devietro

    This article would be MUCH more useful if it were compared with private sector. So we see the salary for the State Hospital pharmacist, what does my local pharmacist at Albertsons make? What about a pharmacist at Providence Hospital?

    • valley person

      Jerry is just providing enough information to give people something to gripe at. And it appears to we borking as usual.

      The state pharmacist salary listed appears to be right about the average for pharmacist salaries nationally using last years data. What you really need to know is the level of the position, which Jerry does not provide. Is it beginner? Mid level? Senior? If it is mid level then it appears to be about where it should be.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >This article would be MUCH more useful if it were compared with private sector.

      Ok – Did I call that one or what?

      State employment generally is not comparable to private sector work. At most, but not all, levels, there simply is not the same level of responsibility, firing for incompetence is rare, performance standards are nebulous. In addition, often jobs in the private sector that are professional in nature tend to be of a non professional nature in the public sector (in other words, the position would be a unionized one in government that normally would be a private sector professional one). Therefore to say if a government job is in line with pay compared to the private sector one is a little meaningless.

      • eagle eye

        “there simply is not the same level of responsibility”

        Right. The pharmacist at the Oregon State Hospital has a much higher level of responsibility than the pharmacist I deal with at BiMart, not that I’m knocking the latter. The head physician at the state prison has a higher level of responsibility (and risk) than the guy I saw last Saturday to treat my bug bites.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Not really. State positions rarely involve the risk of being fired for incompetence. Mistakes? Someone is rarely demoted. Cost over runs of a very serious nature are so commonplace in government its ridiculous. Does anyone ever get demoted for this? Nope. The responsibility level just simply is not there.

          On the pay increase side, do these people get cost of living increases regardless of performance? Pretty much. Raises on an across the board level rather than for individual performance? Pretty much.

          There just is simply no where near the responsibility level in these sorts of jobs, and frankly that’s the reason most take them, greater job security.

          You show me some ODOT project managers that have been fired due to cost overruns and I might reconsider. Actually show me a few state workers in any sort of similar position who have been fired or demoted due to mismanagement and I might reconsider. Somehow I do seem to hear about the cost overruns, I never really hear of anyone getting fired.

          You know I might even reconsider if when it came to state workers who were rude or incompetent ( and I am not saying they are on a regular basis, but they can be just like anyone else ) I could ask to see the manager and get the same sort of action I would in the private sector.

          That’s why state workers do tend to have a lower level of responsibility and that’s why when and if they complain about not getting paid what they would in the private sector most turn a deaf ear. It’s not about disliking state workers or hating them or whatever, it’s just simply being realistic about things.

          • eagle eye

            You completely missed my point about the risk of being a physician at a state prison. It’s dealing with often diseased, sometimes very dangerous, usually unpleasant patients on a daily basis.

            You also said nothing about the responsibility of the pharmacists at the state hospital — dealing with very sick people in very unstable mental condition, helping to treat them with very powerful, unpredictable drugs.

            As for people never being demoted or fired, I happen to know of many cases of people in state employment to whom exactly that happened.

  • green eyeshades

    The pharmacy job is listed here:


    Apparently like all the job postings, the salary actually has a range:


    $6,277 – $9,216 MONTHLY
    This employment opportunity is with Oregon State Hospital,

    i.e. range of $75,324 – $110,592

    Just listing the top of the range is very misleading. Probably, that’s the top salary someone could make in that position if everything lined up just right, i.e. experience, years in service, etc etc. It’s very unlikely that they will hire someone at that figure.

    In any case, without a comparison of total compensation (salary + benefits) in comparable jobs, the point is meaningless.

    • Jerry

      The whole point of the article is that these salaries are not high enough, so it would be pointless to include the lower end of any range for this discussion.

    • valley person

      Thanks for that point Green eyeshades.

      Rupert writes: “often jobs in the private sector that are professional in nature tend to be of a non professional nature in the public sector…”

      I don’t know what this means, but in my experience jobs in the public sector that involve supervising other employees are non-union.

      And the notion that there is less “responsibility” for public sector jobs is bogus. It is public secotr employees who keep drinking water clean, managed waste treatment plants, respond to traffic accidents, provide emergency medical services, fight building and wildfires (sometimes jumping out of moving airplanes to do so,) respond to epidemics, inspect bridges, pilot big ships across treacherous bars, fight wars, inspect incoming cargo, teach kids, and on and on.

      They do not have the dire responsibility of flipping burgers and greeting wallmart shoppers, but those dangerous occupations are best left to the private sector.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Well, obviously you didn’t read my post so you missed the point. I was talking about responsibility for the job, not the job description as you are. You really have such a penchant for going off half cocked and not reading what you are rebutting don’t you Dean?

        Anyhoo, yes, the burger flippers and greeters you denigrate have way more responsibility than my example of a project manager for ODOT. The former will be fired in an instant if they screw up the job or are rude. The ODOT manager will in all likelihood not face any sort of problems for the massive cost overruns such projects are known for.

        Oh well.

        • valley person

          You wrote: “State employment generally is not comparable to private sector work. At most, but not all, levels, there simply is not the same level of responsibility…”

          I was merely agreeing with you. Keeping giardia out of the water supply for 1 million people (a public job) is clearly not comparable to greeting customers at Wallmart (a private job).

          And I wasn’t denigrating anyone. I used to be a proud burger flipper meself, though have never been a greeter.

          My facetious point Rupert, which appears to have flown by you, is that over generalizing is problematic. Yes, it is harder to fire a public employee with either civil service or union protection or both. The reason for this is that once upon a time, in the Tamany Hall of your beloved New York for example, governments used public jobs as political patronage. They hired incompetants who helped get the vote out rather than people qualified to do the job. Civil service established minimum job requirements tied to specific job descriptions, and once a person was hired and passed a probationary period they were then protected from the likes of Bush or Obama being elected and cleaning house and packing the place with “Heckuva job Brownies.”

          My own opinion is that we need a new civil service reform that makes it easier to fire public employees who are less than good performers, and that we need to shift to portable benefits and away from long term vesting (i.e. PERS). But I don’t think lowering pay levels happens to be the best way to attract the best and the brightest to public jobs. I start from the premise that many if not most public jobs are damn important to get done right and efficiently (see examples above,) so I want the best talent available. I think misleading, snarky, selective salary lists like Jerry provided us with encourage ranting by anti-government zealots like yourself, but do not shed any useful light whatsoever.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Haven’t seen Dean dodge #3 ( irrelevant history lesson, generally in a pedantic fashion, in an attempt to change subject ) in quite some time.

            As for being facetious, I think you are misusing the term. Your point was simply inane. In that sense its probably good you eventually went with the Dean Dodge to get out of it.

            I also like how at the end you went with Dean Dodge number two – misunderstanding of “several” and “all”. Just because I object to the lack of accountability in government does not make me an anti government zealot. I simply happen to be a more clever writer than you. You don’t like that, but can’t express yourself as well, so you are left with categorizing everything you can’t argue against as “a rant”.

            In the end, all you have are the predictable silly tricks. The pedantic history stuff, calling any argument you can’t counter a rant, and the logical fallacies you construct such as any criticism of government means one is against all government. You are entitled to your own opinion, but frankly I think you unswerving allegiance to government when your party is in control, and your unending criticism of it when your party is not is really a little scary.

          • valley person

            Isn’t it possible to be both facetious and inane at the same time? Based on most of Jerry’s posts, I would say the answer is clearly yes! I study humbly with the Catalyst master.

            You are a great writer Rupert, much better than I, whoever I happen to be. (Though I may be a bit inanely facetious here). But what you seem to have done is conflated accountability with responsibility. A bidge inspector is “responsible” for examining the bridge following procedures designed by others to see if it is conditionally safe for people to drive on. But if it turns out he or she missed something and the bridge collapses, they are not necessarily held “accountable” for the tragedy, in part because the flaw may have been in the design of the bridge, or in the design of the inspection procedure, or simply because the inspector had to go faster than he/she should have due to budget cuts because we failed to raise the gas tax for 15 years.

            “calling any argument you can’t counter a rant…”
            Wrong Rupert. I did counter your argument. You just don’t accept my counter that public employees have plenty of responsibility because you confuse that with them being held publicly and individually to account when things go wrong in the same manner as they would be in an unprotected by law private sector job. You don’t even acknowledge anywhere that public sector workers and managers have tons of responsibility as compared with private sector workers and managers, and that to the extent they are held less “acountable” it is largely because of the civil service system, hence your unwanted history lesson.

    • public servant

      Good work, eyeshades!

      And Jerry’s “rebuttal” makes him sound more foolish than ever. Is it any wonder people don’t trust these clowns to run the government?

  • Harry

    and don’t forget the $12,800 per job for healthcare benefits.

    And the 9% ERS paid for by the state.

  • mpower

    avoid this sort of dry sarcasm when publishing on the web… it doesn’t translate well at all.

    BTW, public employees are doomed… states and municipalities are going to enter bankruptcy at an unprecedented rate/volume. Judges are going to nullify contracts and pension/benefit obligations.

    If public employees were smart, they would accept pay cuts and buy out their pension/benny programs and privatize them. If public employees continue on their current path, they will all be out of jobs and be left with zero pensions/benefits. I am continually amazed that public employees (and their unions) don’t see the writing on the wall…

    • Jerry

      Nothing you said will happen.
      When was the last time you met a state worker who had lost his/her job??

    • Rupert in Springfield

      A state worker losing their job for incompetence or rudeness with the public is simply an impossibility. They have zero accountability and thus zero responsibility. When was the last time you ever saw a state worker even reprimanded?

  • eagle eye

    I caught Lars Larson during lunch yesterday, he referred to this article. Bob Tiernan was on the air with him, agreeing wholeheartedly. Neither mentioned the devastating facts brought up by “green eyeshade”.

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