In a typical work environment, you do your job, surrounded by any number of other people a lot like you. All of you work toward the common goal of making something, selling something, making something better or fixing something. On most days, you and your coworkers do the job with a smile on your face, are polite to each other, and help each other out. Every two weeks, you get a paycheck for your efforts, and some of you get the satisfaction of being paid more than a living wage for doing your job.
In a typical work environment for corrections officers, they do their job surrounded and outnumbered by any number of killers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, and thieves. They are not like you at all. In most cases, there are four more of them than there are of you. Some of them would rather stick a shank in your back than smile at you; punch you in the face rather than work toward a common goal. There is no doubt that your coworkers have your back and will fight alongside you; and you would do the same; you have to.
Now, imagine this every single day you go to work. Corrections officers get the satisfaction of knowing that they have their coworker’s back, and the coworker has theirs. Every two weeks they get a paycheck too. But how many of them get the satisfaction of being paid more than a living wage for doing their jobs? The results may shock you.
The analysis of mean salaries for Corrections Officers revealed that, in 34 states officers making the mean salary are not paid a living wage, in 12 states they are paid a living wage, and in 5 states the data was not available. The mean annual salaries in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Michigan all exceed the state living wage by less than $500.
Mean salaries in Connecticut, Minnesota, Ohio, and Hawaii are between $1,000 and $5,000 lower than the living wage. Eleven states (Vermont, Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Utah, and Arizona) have mean salaries between $5,000 and $10,000 less than the respective living wage.
The mean salary in twelve states (New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kansas) is between $10,000 and $15,000 less than the respective living wage.
The gap between mean salary and living wage for Corrections Officers is the widest in D.C. There, the mean salary is $17,627 less than the living wage. Six states (North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Missouri) also see mean salaries that are more than $15,000 less than the respective living wage.
The state where mean salaries exceed the living wage by the greatest amount is New Jersey. The mean salary of a Corrections Officer there is $15,321 more than a living wage. Corrections Officers are also faring well in Massachusetts ($6,610 more), New York ($4,122 more), Illinois ($9,756 more), California ($12,705 more), Alaska ($7,070 more), Washington ($1,659 more), Oregon ($5,050 more) and Idaho ($10,471 more).
The table below shows the annual mean wage of Corrections Officers in each state, the hourly mean wage, the state living wage, the living wage +/- and the number of overtime hours they would have to work to make a living wage.
|State||Annual Mean Wage||Hourly Mean Wage||State Living Wage||Living Wage +/-||Overtime Hours Needed|
|Rhode Island||Not available||$53,240||N/A|
|South Dakota||Not available||$45,410||N/A|
Editor's Note: We used mean salary Data from BLS and the Living Wage data from MIT’s living wage model; if you'd like to scrutinize our methology, then please click here for an in-depth article detailing it.
About the Author
Mike Kennedy is a frequent contributor to At the Ready Magazine. He is a former Airborne Ranger Infantryman and after the Army spent fourteen years working for the U.S. Army Maneuver Battle as an Experimentation Manager, where he routinely worked with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Robotic Systems-Joint Project Office, Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center and numerous other government labs to develop and test new equipment and concepts designed to make Soldier’s lives better. At the Battle Lab, Mike managed and supervised the execution of experiments, data collection procedures, analysis of raw data and presentation of results in written form for Army decision makers. He personally planned, coordinated, and executed more than 80 unmanned systems experimentation events. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from American Military University. Mike’s professional training includes the Test and Evaluation Basic Course, Project Management, Scheduling and Cost Control, Advanced Techniques of Project Management, Fundamentals of Systems Acquisition Management, Capabilities Based Planning, Business Case Analysis, and the Army Capabilities Development Course.