A nice followup to that online database that allows you to look up the base salary of city employees: City employee pay and benefits have risen 63% in the past 8 years, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. Check out the chart above—you'll see that pay has gone up an average of 33%, while health insurance has gone up almost 100%. In private industry, between 2000 and 2008, salary + benefit compensation has only increased by 31% (salaries by 32%, other benefits by 40%).

The Post points out these are "just averages...Firefighters, whose contracts call for built-in overtime and 20-year retirements, 'cost' an average of $186,464 each. Cops, with similarly generous benefits, came in at $164,045. Teachers and other instructional personnel averaged $98,505. The remaining civilian workers brought up the rear at $83,279." The CBC's Carol Kellerman tells the NY Times, “These skyrocketing costs are stunning, and they impose an enormous, and growing, burden on increasingly strained taxpayers. Corrective action is essential and can no longer be delayed.”

Some of this is attributed to Mayor Bloomberg's generous policies and contract re-negotiations, but his office says the mayor supports pension reform but can't do anything about it without the state's action (Governor Paterson has more recently promised to help). Mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna added, “Rapidly rising [health care] costs are not unique to New York City government. That’s a national problem and there’s really not a local solution to what’s a national health care problem.”