PUBLIC vs. PRIVATE; Taking a look at government and private sector jobs


Brown County is home to many different types of career fields.

Government jobs or public sector jobs require you to work for a government organization generally serving the people. They can provide stability and comfortable benefits.

Private sector jobs are privately or corporately owned and operated. They range from small businesses to large corporations and allow for more flexibility.

“County government is way underpaid compared to the private sector,” Melissa Stinson-Waddell Commissioner’s Assistant said. “We have better benefits, but on the flip side it’s hard to make a living income on $40,000 or less base pay.”

Stinson-Waddell said that the benefits include 16 paid holidays, six paid days off, six sick days, at least $100 in a longevity bonus for every year worked and a 3 percent cost of living raise each year.

With private sector businesses in Brown County commonly being small businesses, many of the owners are also employees.

“We recently took over, so we are still new to this,” Stephanie Luckey House of Jerky Owner said. “No PTO or sick days. I mean, if they’re sick I will cover for them, but we can’t pay time off.”

Many local businesses said that they do not have benefits for their employees, while a few allowed paid time off depending on how long the employees were with the company. One business even shared that they offer a simple IRA to qualifying employees.

The managers generally have more paid time off and sick days, but no health insurance or other benefits.

“During good years we get raises,” Taylor Arnold Manager of Fallen Leaf Books said. “But that is not an every year thing, only when they can afford it.”

According to the 2024 County Council’s Salary Ordinance, government positions including County Assessor, Recorder, Treasurer, Auditor, Surveyor, Coroner, Assessor, Circuit Court Clerk, Sheriff, Probation Officers, Coroners, Jailers and Dispatchers all receive longevity bonuses each year on top of their base pay dependant on the amount of years Full time government employees are required to work 40 hours each week unless their job specifies differently.

“Elected officials legally are required to work one day a year,” Stinson-Waddell explained. “When you see them here working late and working extra hours, legally they don’t have to do that. They are only required to work one day and could have other people work the other days for them, but most of them choose to work extra.”

The majority of private-sector businesses said that their average management weekly hours are between 25 and 40 while their employees range from 8 to 40 depending on full-time and part-time employment status.

Some businesses said that their average wages for employees start at $8.25 and go up to $17 per hour while the managers make between $10 and $24. The average wages for government employees range from $13 to $30 with the department head’s averaging between $17 and $47 per hour.

The Democrat tried reaching out to many local businesses and some business owners opted not to disclose wage information.

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