CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County College employees are paid less than their counterparts at other community colleges and comparable private-sector workers, say preliminary results from a compensation study requested by administrators.
The study by Evergreen Solutions, a Florida-based consulting company, found that on average, MCC’s administrative, classified and professional staff were paid nearly 12 percent less at the beginning of their careers than peers in 19 markets. At the midpoint in their careers, MCC employees were about 5 percent behind their peers.
The gap closed to less than 3 percent at the end-of-career mark, said Jeff Ling, executive vice president of Evergreen Solutions.
The college’s employees were further behind in comparison to the private sector, even when benefits were factored in, the consultant found.
Compared with the private sector, MCC employees were 12 percent behind at the outset, 25 percent behind at mid-career, and 30 percent behind at the end, Ling said.
But he noted those broad conclusions don’t hold true for all employees. Classified staff – administrative assistants, coordinators and other support staff – started out behind their private-sector counterparts, but at the end of their careers wound up about 4 percent ahead, Ling said.
MCC employs more than 200 professional and classified staff. The college has 46 administrators. The study didn’t look at compensation for of any of the college’s instructors.
“Our goal moving into this last phase was to be as competitive as possible so you can hire the very best people that you can,” Ling said. “We wanted to base it on market value, but we [also] wanted to take into account fiscal constraints.”
Evergreen Solutions had planned to present its final report from the study this month, but it was not complete. Ling said the final report should be done before the college’s board meets July 26. The final report will include more detail than what was presented to a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday night. It also will include recommendations for the college’s pay ranges, how to implement those pay ranges, and how much those changes will cost the college.
Several board members said they were surprised by the preliminary results.
Board Chairwoman Mary Miller said her own research showed different results and asked where Evergreen Solutions got its information for private employers.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually states how the public sector is about 34 higher than the private sector,” Miller said. “So I’m real curious as to where you got your private data.”
Ling said the data was purchased from the Economic Research Institute. He said the Bureau of Labor of Statistics numbers didn’t match comparable jobs, but combines all jobs, a process that doesn’t factor in key differences between the public and private sectors.
“There is a much higher representation of service-sector jobs in the private economy than the public economy,” he said. “There’s just not as many people flipping burgers or driving trucks or doing gardening in the public domain as the private domain. That drags the average down. Conversely, there aren’t many public managers who make $1 million-plus, but there is a fair number of executives in the private sector that do. There is a lot that is hidden” in the Bureau of Labor of Statistics numbers.
Still, several board members said they wanted to see the finished report before moving ahead with any changes.
“It does counter what I see happening here in McHenry County. It counters to what I know from working in the private sector,” said Dennis Adams, the board’s vice chairman and owner of several automotive repair shops in the county. “I’m going to have to dive into those papers to see what is different from what I see.”