State employees earn 4.5 percent less in salaries and benefits than workers in Utah's private sector, according to a report prepared by state personnel officials.

The state's workers earn even less when compared with public employees in 10 other Western states, the report said.Earn Banner, state director of human resources, recently presented the report to Gov. Norm Bangerter. Personnel officials believe state employees deserve a raise next year. The Utah Public Employees Association has asked for an 8 percent raise for state employees, but the governor is considering only a 2 percent increase.

The study compared state employees with workers in Utah companies that have at least 20 people on the payroll. When the workers were compared on salary alone, state employees earned about 6 percent less, Banner said.

The state offers its workers an attractive benefits program, paying 90 percent of insurance premiums.

Banner said the comparison with other Western states may be a little misleading. "California pulled the average up significantly," he said.