basic income

Almost 90 per cent of public sector workers have some sort of pension plan. By constrast, less than a quarter of private sector workers do. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

People who work in the public sector make almost 11 per cent more than their counterparts in the private sector, a new analysis of Statistics Canada data by the Fraser Institute think tank has found.

In the report, the group looked at data from Statistics Canada's monthly Labour Force Survey from January to December of last year. "After controlling for such factors as gender, age, marital status, education, tenure, size of firm, type of job, industry, and occupation, Canada's government sector workers were found to enjoy a 10.6 per cent wage premium, on average, over their private sector counterparts," the report said.

Just under two-thirds of Canadian workers, or  11.6 million people, work in the private sector, by the Fraser Institute's calculations. In contrast, there were about 3.6 million public sector workers in Canada, or about 20 per cent of the total labour force.

While those in the public sector are generally paid more, the gap narrows once unionization is factored in. Public sector workers only make 7.2 per cent more, on average, than their unionized private sector counterparts.

"It is important to note that the wage premium varies within particular industries and occupations," the report said. 

In addition to a premium on salary, the report also found that public sector workers generally get better benefits such as retirement programs. "While a little over two of every 10 private sector workers have a registered pension plan, nearly nine of every 10 public sector workers do," the report found.

With that added retirement buffer, it's not surprising that the Fraser Institute calculates public sector workers, on average, workers retire 2.3 years earlier than private sector workers.

They're also almost eight times less likely to experience job loss. According to the Fraser Institute's research, 3.8 per cent of those employed in the private sector experienced job loss in Canada in 2015, compared to only 0.5 per cent of those employed in the public sector.