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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Working for the government

Here are some eye-opening statistics from the Washington Examiner contrasting what federal employees earn compared to the private sector.
For decades, public sector unions have peddled the fantasy that government employees were paid less than their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, the pay disparity is the other way around. Government workers, especially at the federal level, make salaries that are scandalously higher than those paid to private sector workers. And let's not forget private sector workers not only have to be sufficiently productive to earn their paychecks, they also must pay the taxes that support the more generous jobs in the public sector.

Data compiled by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals the extent of the pay gap between federal and private workers. As of 2008, the average federal salary was $119,982, compared with $59,909 for the average private sector employee. In other words, the average federal bureaucrat makes twice as much as the average working taxpayer. Add the value of benefits like health care and pensions, and the gap grows even bigger. The average federal employee's benefits add $40,785 to his annual total compensation, whereas the average working taxpayer's benefits increase his total compensation by only $9,881. In other words, federal workers are paid on average salaries that are twice as generous as those in the private sector, and they receive benefits that are four times greater.
The results are not quite so stark, but are certainly along the same path when you look at state and local employees compared to the private sector. As the Examiner concludes, it is time for a change.
With the federal deficit and national debt heading into the stratosphere, taxpayers can no longer afford to support such lucrative government compensation. Public sector pay and benefits at all levels should be reduced to make it comparable to the wages and benefits earned by the average working taxpayer. The first politician to propose a five-year plan for this purpose is likely to be cheered mightily by taxpayers.


John A said...

Until probably the 1960s, it may have been true that a government employee was paid less for the same work as a non-government employee for the same work, with the trade-offs in benefits. The perception has been maintained, though the actuality (at least outside the Armed Forces) is rather different.

lkdemott said...

I don't doubt that Federal Employees are doing well. I wonder, however, whether these statistics overstate the case. Although there are obviously federal employees located throughout the U.S., I suspect that they are disproportionately located in Washington and other high cost of living areas. (e.g.$119,00 in Washington, D.C. is a lot less than $119,000 in Cincinnati, Ohio)