Pay for Federal Workers Not Jibing with Market Rates


Some people think public employees get paid too much. Some say too little. I’d imagine that really depends on the situation, though both examples can likely be found. However, a report from USA Today indicates federal employees may be getting seriously overpaid compared to going rates in the private sector. Public employee unions argue, however, that this is due to an increase in educational requirements to perform federal jobs. Not sure, but it’s tough to see these numbers and not think something is askew:

At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years…

What the data show:

  • Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government’s contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.

  • Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.

  • Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *