Missouri state employees’ perennial ranking among the nation’s lowest paid state employees comes as no surprise to most state employees. The asterisk that usually follows the statement is that their benefits are in the top drawer.
But have all state benefits kept pace with other public and private employers?
Missouri’s spending on state employee benefits has increased over the past five years, but the trend is not exclusive.
Missouri pays a flat rate of $ 11,722 for health care costs and covers about 45.3% of other benefit costs per employee, according to 2019 data.
This is an increase since 2016, when the state paid 39.91% of benefit costs per employee.
In 2021, state government employees can expect to pay $ 1,048 per month for health insurance and 37.96% of their annual salary for other benefits, according to the Personnel Division of the Bureau of administration.
An hourly rate of how much Missouri pays for state employee benefits was not available.
Missouri’s trend is similar to state and local governments across the country.
Nationally, state and local government employers paid an average of $ 16.48 in benefits per employee per hour in 2016. It has since risen to $ 20.50, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the United States.
The private sector is also following the trend.
Private companies were paying an average of $ 9.73 per hour for employee benefits in 2016. Today, that cost has climbed to $ 10.76 per hour, according to BLS data.
Across the country, private, state and local employers have seen the total cost of employee compensation, which includes wages, salaries and benefits, rise by nearly 25% over the past decade.
While private sector compensation costs have steadily increased along with state and local government costs, the total amount paid by private employers lags behind their state and local government counterparts.
In 2019, the state hired CBIZ Talent & Compensation Solutions to conduct a compensation and benefits study comparing Missouri to private sector employers.
While the report found that the state needed to address pay or compensation gaps, Missouri’s benefits outweighed the market compared to the labor market at large, especially in the areas of paid time off and benefits. retirement benefits.
“For lower-level jobs, the above-market perks usually fill the gap of a below-market base salary and zero bonus opportunity; however, this is not the case for many level-level jobs. higher, ”notes the study.
Missouri groups its benefits into four broad categories: insurance, retirement, leave, and other benefits.
New government employees earn three weeks of paid annual leave, three weeks of sick leave and 12 paid public holidays each year.
Annual leave is accrued at the rate of five hours per pay period, but the longer an employee remains in government employment, the more he earns each pay period. Employees who have worked for a state agency for 10 years earn six hours per pay period and those who turn 15 for the state earn seven hours per pay period.
For sick leave, there is no limit to the amount an employee can accumulate and unused leave can be converted into credited service upon retirement.
State employees can also request supervisor-approved paid time off under certain circumstances, such as military service, bereavement, and jury duty.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paid sick leave was available for 77% of workers in the private sector in March. Access ranged from 59 percent of workers in service occupations to 93 percent in managerial, professional and related positions.
Annual or consolidated leave was available for 45 percent of private sector workers in March.
Full-time state employees also have health and prescription drug coverage, eye and dental insurance through the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan.
Starting in 2019, MCHCP offered two preferred provider plans and a health savings account plan for active employees and retirees not covered by Medicare. The state also switched to third-party administrator Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield on January 1, 2020.
The Health Savings Plan option allows employees to pay for eligible medical expenses with pre-tax dollars by opening a health savings account at a local bank and contributing up to specified limits.
Health saving plans have been promoted in recent years as a way to cut costs by organizations like the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The plans are consumer-centric, meaning they “strengthen the role of consumers in seeking needed and more affordable care – and avoid expensive care and overuse of services,” according to NCSL.
The costs of health insurance are shared between the state and the employee and apply to the employee and his or her spouses or children.
As of July of this year, employees in the state of Missouri who earn an average salary of $ 38,714 per year contribute 32.5% of their salary to health insurance by paying a monthly rate of $ 1,048.
In 2020, MCHCP’s share of family health insurance coverage was 86 percent, and state employees paid the remaining 14 percent of premium costs. For employee-only plans, the state paid 91% and employees 9%, according to the MCHCP 2020 annual report.
The average private sector employer in 2021 pays 66% of health insurance premiums and the employee pays 34%, and the average state and local government employer nationwide pays 71% of insurance premiums – sickness and employee pays 29%, BLS data suggests.
The Missouri cost division between employer and employee is not available for vision and dental insurance, where the plans are fully paid for by the employee and the plans vary in cost.
In the private sector, however, only 40 percent of workers are offered dental care and vision insurance is available for 56 percent of unionized workers and 25 percent of non-union workers, according to BLS data.
The Missouri state employee pension system has several pension plans, but new hires would fall under the 2011 MSEP, which requires state employees to contribute 4 percent of their salary.
Under this plan, the average Missouri state employee who earns $ 38,714 per year, for example, can expect to pay around $ 1,548 annually for their pension plan, while the state would contribute about $ 9,100 for the employee each year.
Government employees become vested after working full-time for five years and generally become eligible for retirement at age 67.
Missouri employees may become eligible for early retirement at age 62, but monthly early retirement benefits are reduced by half of 1 percent for each month the employee’s age is below l normal retirement age. Early retirement also obliges employees to withdraw directly from active employment.
The earliest a government employee can retire is 55. To be eligible, state employees must adhere to the 90’s rule – in which the employee’s age and years of service must equal 90.
In the private sector, 68 percent of employees have access to retirement benefits, but only 51 percent participate, according to BLS data.
Missouri offers a variety of other benefits to its employees, including free confidential advice, workers’ compensation, and technical and computer training courses.
In addition, many private companies provide entertainment, products, and services at a discounted rate to employees in the state of Missouri.