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County workers paid well despite ailing economy

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The Hubbard County Board's decision for its employees to continue getting a 3 percent annual raise through the end of 2011 has been difficult for many people to comprehend.

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In the midst of a recession, with many employees taking pay cuts or losing jobs altogether, county employees are getting a cost of living increase. This was a previously agreed upon contract with the union but it seems that given the tough economic times something should change.

Many of our readers have posted comments at www.parkrapidsenterprise.com about the county wages story that ran in the Jan. 13 Enterprise. Some are upset about the increases while others have defended the county's workers.

Some of those making comments expressed frustration with having a high number of unemployed people yet county employees getting raise.

Others said the 3 percent increase isn't really an increase in pay because insurance premiums have also increased. Another commenter praised unions for looking out for their members.

In the Jan. 13 article, it was reported that many county employees are above the U.S. Census Bureau median income levels in both the state and Hubbard County. We were criticized for not including the average Hubbard County employee salary.

Calculating the average county employee's salary is more difficult than you think. Depending on the figures received from County Auditor Pam Heeren or County Coordinator Jack Paul the average ends up being different.

Also, figuring out what to include while calculating the average salary is tricky.

In a front page story in today's Enterprise, we tackle figuring out the average salary for a county employee.

We didn't include firefighters contractors or benefits. According to Heeren's figures, the average wage of a full-time county employee is $52,002.64. But the numbers change if overtime is added or part-timers are included. Also, Paul's figures were a little different than Heeren's.

Either way, county employees are well paid when compared to others in the county.

In 2008, the Census Bureau's American Community Survey listed median household income at $57,318 in Minnesota; $42,312 for Hubbard County.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis tracks personal per capita income. In 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, Minnesota's was $41,105; Hubbard County's was $27,984.

We understand that many county employees are well qualified and have had extensive training. It just seems that compared to others they are getting much favorable treatment despite the ailing economy.

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