The real problem

The real problem

PE Bias Grade : N/A

By: Allen Nitschelm on January 11, 2020 | Editorial Review

This is a review of the following Boston Globe Article:
Article Title Where are the women on top-earners list?
Date 01/10/2020
Article Link ( Page B6 )
Syndicated From N/A
Journalist Shirley Leung
Article Summary

Op-Ed discusses top public sector salaries, few of which are earned by women.

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This Editorial Opinion column purports to show a gender gap between the highest paid state workers. It does, but the real news is the “public service” salaries themselves. Did you know that some are making over $1 million a year?

“It gets worse,” says Op-Ed writer Shirley Leung. I’d say making $1 million a year on the public payroll is bad enough.

What Leung doesn’t talk about is what these people on the public payroll get in retirement. It is my understanding that the standard pensions for those working in the system for 30-35 years are 80% of the highest wages earned over the last three years. This is a guaranteed benefit, not subject to investment returns.

This and other promised benefits like retirement healthcare has led to a serious underfunding of our future obligations. I just happened to write about this topic yesterday in relationship to the French rail strikes and how France is trying to cut back on their generous promises, but the promisees will have none of that. See

So in today’s article, if someone is earning $1 million a year, and they are eligible for a pension, they would be getting paid $800,000 a year in retirement. If they retire at age 60 and live until 85, that would be about $20 million. And that’s just for one guy.

For the women who are “only” earning $500,000, that is $400,000 a year. Women tend to live longer, so that’s to their financial benefit under the state’s generous pension plan.

Not all of these high-earners will have put in enough years to get these huge pension payouts. But if you look at rank-and-file state employees, the pension promises add up to a lot of money.

Take a teacher, for example. Teachers start out at relatively low salaries and they “pay their dues.” The benefits, however, are excellent. If a teacher works for 40 years at an average salary of $70,000, they would earn $2.8 million over their lifetime.

But if they retire and their ending salary is $100,000 (and in Acton, many teachers make more than this), their pension payment would be $80,000 a year. If they live for 30 years, and get 2% COLA raises each year, they would be paid in retirement a total of $3,245,446, according to my calculation. So depending on their life expectancy, they could make more money in retirement than they made while working.


Allen Nitschelm is publisher of He critiques the Boston Globe, mostly focusing on the bias in their news reporting. News articles are graded for bias, and the website has a listing of the average bias ratings for all reporters reviewed. See our website for more information and the four categories of articles we publish.

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