The government of San Francisco employs tens of thousands of workers across its 50 city and county departments. Last year, full-time S.F. government employees made anywhere between $36,000 and $601,000, with the average at around $127,000, which includes overtime.
That’s according to data provided by the S.F. Controller’s Office on the amount paid to public employees each year. Using this data, The Chronicle analyzed the earnings of those who worked at least 2,080 hours during the 2020-2021 fiscal year — equivalent to a position working 40 hours or more per week between July 2020 and June 2021. This comes out to about 21,000 employees. Because we filtered on actual hours worked, our data does not include full-time workers who, for instance, were out on unpaid leave or started midway through the fiscal year.
The data includes the pay of top officials, like Mayor London Breed ($351,000), Police Chief Bill Scott ($344,000) and former District Attorney Chesa Boudin ($308,000). But it also has information on other public employees. Among them are office clerks, police officers, firefighters, nurses in the public health department and transit operators at the Municipal Transportation Agency. Job titles used in this article are those provided by the Controller’s Office.
The total pay number is made up of three types of earnings — regular or base pay; overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week; and “other” pay which covers irregular payments such as leave pay, premium pay and payouts. It does not include the value of health insurance or retirement benefits, which can be generous in the public sector.
For most employees, the bulk of their pay comes from regular pay. But within the understaffed fire, police and sheriff departments, some employees racked up eye-popping amounts of overtime pay, which at times exceeded their regular wages. Across the three departments, the average person made $27,000 in overtime, and 153 employees collected over $100,000.
In an effort to boost staffing levels and reduce overtime spending in each of the three departments, the budget for the current fiscal year includes increased funding for hiring and retention. The police budget, for instance, went up by $50 million from the previous year, with most of the additional spending for backfilling 220 officer vacancies.
Across the 34 departments with at least 50 employees who worked 2,080 hours last year, the fire department had the highest average pay at $185,000, while the Recreation & Park Department had the lowest average at $96,000.
The Retirement Services and Administrative Services departments have the largest pay differences among its employees. The top earner in each department — Chief Investment Officer in Retirement Services and a medical examiner in Administrative Services — made about $600,000, which is $500,000 more than how much its least-paid employees earned.
The top earner in each department is typically the department head or person leading the office. For example, among the 109 full-time employees in the Mayor’s Office, Breed made the most at $351,000, which is $127,000 more than the next highest-paid staff member.
But in departments with significant overtime, the top earner is often a manager-level employee with unusually large overtime payments. The highest-paid person in the fire department, for instance, is a lieutenant with $154,000 in regular pay and $244,000 in overtime pay for a total of $421,000 — about $43,000 more than Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson’s total ($378,000). In the sheriff’s department, a deputy sheriff’s pay totaled $409,000, about two-thirds of which was overtime pay. That’s $131,000 more than what Sheriff Paul Miyamoto made last year ($278,000).