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Privatization of refuse removal and labor costs


We examine the labor-cost savings associated with privatization by comparing earnings and employment trends of public and private sector refuse workers. Findings suggest that high union earnings for workers in the public sector are a source of labor-cost savings in the refuse industry. Evidence on job changers does not indicate that earnings for this group of workers are a compensating differential. Metropolitan area employment findings suggest that municipalities are less likely to use union refuse workers in the public sector when a relatively small percentage of area residents belong to a union.

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The authors thank Jacqueline Agesa, Keith Bender, Maria Crawford, and Richard Perlman for valuable suggestions. Research assistance from Eric Blackburn is greatly appreciated.

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Hoover, G.A., Peoples, J. Privatization of refuse removal and labor costs. J Labor Res 24, 293–305 (2003).

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  • Public Sector
  • Refuse Collection
  • Employment Share
  • Union Worker
  • Nonunion Worker