June 20, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

It pays to work for the state

cash 100s

That goes quintuple for higher ed


How big should the public sector be, relative to the private, and how well should it compensate its workers? These are questions that ignite wars among economists and ideologues, but there is some consensus: The average value of pay and benefits in the private sector has not kept pace with the public sector. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that average private-sector pay in South Carolina grew from $34,741 in 2007 to $38,660 in 2012. In the same time, the average state employee’s pay went from $39,010 to $42,637.

Now there’s more information to fuel debate in the Palmetto State. There are at least 20,634 state employees earning more than $50,000 a year, according to data furnished by the state Department of Administration and updated last month. That’s a jump of roughly 33 percent over the last five years.

When the legislature approved a 3.25 percent pay hike for state employees a year ago, Employees Association executive director Carlton Washington said it was insufficient and would cause state employees to have “a loss of vigor.”

Meanwhile, the state’s top 10 earners as of two weeks ago, according to a combined database maintained by The State newspaper, have a total income of $4,557,340. Five years ago, that total was $3,673,800, marking an increase of 24 percent.

Nine of the top 10 state earners are in higher education.

  • William Muschamp, head football coach, USC — $1,100,000
  • Ray Tanner, athletics director, USC — $537,187
  • Lonnie Carter, president and CEO, Santee Cooper — $525,14
  • Martin Morad, professor, researcher, USC — $405,368
  • Joan Gabel, provost, USC — $400,400
  • Gary Gilmore, coach, Coastal Carolina U. — $400,000
  • Jeffery Dillman, coach, USC — $400,000
  • Kurt Roper, coach, USC — $400,000
  • Travaris Robinson, coach, USC — $400,000
  • Lisa Montgomery, vice president, MUSC — $388,011

Of the top 20 state earners, 18 are in higher education.

Of the top 50, 47 are in higher education; of those, 14 are coaches, five are professors, and 26 are administrators.

Last year, The Nerve found that of the 250 top state earners, 217 were in higher education.

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