Yesterday the USA Today reported that not only has the number of federal workers making more than $150,000 a year doubled since President Barack Obama took office, but that President Obama wants to give federal workers a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise.
The two government union spokespeople in the article both claim that federal workers earn less than their private sector counterparts, but as Heritage Foundation senior labor policy analyst James Sherk has detailed that simply is not true.
Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey (CPS) for 2006 through 2009, Sherk found that even after controlling for education and experience, federal employees get paid 22% more per hour on average than private-sector workers. And that does not include the significant non-cash benefits government workers receive. Federal employees not only can enroll in a Thrift Savings Plan that works like a 401(k), but they also get a “defined contribution” plan, which lets a worker with 30 years of experience retire at 56 with full benefits. And don’t forget the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, paid leave, group life insurance and on-site child care. To be sure, many private employers offer similar benefits but not all of these at the same time. All told, while the average private-sector employee gets $9,882 in annual benefits, federal government employees get $32,115 on average. Adding cash and non-cash compensation together, federal employees earn approximately 30 to 40 percent more in total compensation than comparable private-sector workers.
And the gravy train doesn’t end there. How much would near-absolute job security be worth to you? While their private sector counterparts have seen the unemployment rate rise from 4.2% to a high of 10.6%, the percentage of federal employees who lost jobs barely budged, going from 2.0% to 2.9%. And if “serving” in the public sector is such a “sacrifice” then why do federal employees voluntarily leave their jobs at roughly a third the rate that private sector employees do?
If anything the next Congress should be identifying ways to reduce spending on federal worker salaries, not raising them.