Government workers in Wisconsin -- and 40 other states -- earn higher salaries and receive better benefits than private-sector workers in the same state, according to a new analysis by USA Today

The findings will likely be used to bolster the positions of Republicans in Wisconsin and other states who are seeking to restrict unionized teachers' collective bargaining rights and require them to pay a larger portion of their benefits.

On average, public workers earned $57,775 annually in salary and benefits -- about $2,511 more than the average private-sector worker, according to the newspaper's study.

The newspaper's analysis also found that public employees' compensation has grown at a faster rate than that of private workers since 2000, largely due to improving benefits.

The study didn't control for specific jobs, education or other factors, prompting some critics to question its methodology.