Compensation Benchmarking Practices in Large U.S. Local Governments

Michael Thom, Thomas Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Growing competition over human capital has reiterated the importance of strategic practices to maintaining a high-quality public sector workforce. But how often does the public sector study pay and benefits among competitive peers? This study presents the findings of a national survey of human resource professionals regarding compensation benchmarking practices. Just over half of respondents indicated they conducted a benchmarking study within the last decade. A majority said their jurisdiction only compares compensation with other public employers, with a smaller number including both public and private competitors. Salaries were the most frequent topic of concern; fringe benefits and paid leave time were less often compared. Several jurisdictions conducted benchmarking studies for purposes other than compensation; about one quarter gathered data for purely informational purposes and 9% carried out a study in anticipation of labor negotiations. A series of best practices for benchmarking studies is offered in conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-355
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 14 2015


  • compensation
  • human resource management
  • local government
  • public management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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