All These “Jobs Bills” Are Working…

…If you work for the Government

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

They’re taxing and regulating private industry out of existence to enrich themselves, to give themselves benefits and perks that they’re trying to make illegal for you.

But that you get the honor of paying for.

8 Responses to “All These “Jobs Bills” Are Working…”

  1. JeffS says:

    Even worse, Mr. Bingley, a lot of those Federal employees have a way high sense of entitlement about their salary and benefits. We could easily cut back on both, and they would survive nicely. The Feds are way overpaid.

    And I speak from personal experience on this one.

  2. Cullen says:

    Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors

    I can see cooks, clerks and janitors, but I absolutely do not understand how government accountant, nurses and chemists make anywhere near their civilian counterparts. I know nurses who work for the VA here and I know a lot of private-sector nurses. The difference in pay (in favor of the private sector) is laughable. They also get better health benefits.

    The study is also skewed to some degree because a federal worker is going to earn more after putting in a greater number of years of service. The average age of the federal workforce is 10-20 years that of the civilian workforce. So, what you’re seeing here is a aged workforce getting paid at higher rates in comparison to a younger workforce with less experience. To some degree.

    I completely agree with JeffS about the entitlement attitude among many government employees. However, I couldn’t cut cut back on salary or benefits and survive. It’s the main reason I went into government service in the first place – the secure salary and pay.

  3. Cullen says:

    I also take issue with some of their numbers:
    A broadcast technician making $90K + in the gov’t? Where? We only have broadcast technicians in AFN dets and in MDW. Other branches might have them in PR offices, but at BEST they’d be GS-13s, so they MIGHT be pulling $75K.

    A Computer, information systems manager making $120K? That means they’re a GS-15. Perhaps not unheard of, but certainly not the norm.

    I mean, I understand the angst, but these feast or famine moments in the private sector are exactly why many choose gov’t service – the stable pay vice the volatility of the private sector.

    I want to know where USA Today got their numbers. Not just “from the BLS,” but at what end of the labor spectrum and from what market. Are they taking DC or New York-area markets and comparing them to mid-West private-sector markets? Are these numbers an aggregate?

  4. tree hugging sister says:

    Oh, a masterful dissection of the data, Cullen!

  5. JeffS says:

    Cullen, those averages may not visible from where you sit, but they are from here. I not surprised to see hype in this article (Federal employees have always been an easy beat up), but there’s more than a grain of truth here.

    This is the 2010 general pay schedule. You’re right, you have to be a GS-15 to earn $120K annually.

    If you are using ONLY the base pay schedule, that is. Add in the locality pay tables, and it ain’t necessarily so. In some part of the county, you can be a GS-13 earning $120K.

    And where might the highest concentration of high pay Federal employees might be? Where the regional and national offices are, as a rule. Where the higher locality pays are authorized. So the average could easily skew towards the high end, because there are more of them in high cost of living areas.

    And that assumes that we are not looking at a special rate table. There are wage rates for professional and scientific employees, wage grade (e.g., union blue collar workers), judges, etc.

    So, I have to say, there’s more truth than hype in this article. And I can assure you, the unions have been doing their best to crank it up. Take this quote from the USA article:

    But National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley says the comparison is faulty because it “compares apples and oranges.” Federal accountants, for example, perform work that has more complexity and requires more skill than accounting work in the private sector, she says.

    I deal with the federal bean counters on a daily basis, and this is largely a crock. The only real difference (that I’ve seen anyway, smarter people than I should feel free to correct me) between public and private accounting are the laws and regulations regarding obligating and expending Federal funds. There’s a buttload of them, but concerns and questions are thrown at the lawyers to resolve; there are very well defined processes to implement those laws and regulations. Most of which end up saying “NO!”

    I agree, there are a lot of Federal employees who don’t get the pay they deserve. But there are a lot more Federal employees who get the pay they DON’T deserve. And the Federal employee workforce is probably top heavy in that regards. Stupid but (I believe) true.

  6. JeffS says:

    And I’m just guessing here, but the BLS data probably comes from the agencies themselves. Lord knows every one of them has a financial management system designed to record exactly this sort of dreck. Pay roll data is an integral element of that.

  7. Cullen says:

    I certainly agree that the fed workforce is topheavy. But that’s a problem in the position classifications. Further, I’m betting the SES employees skew fed data tremendously.

    I’m also thinking about this from a middle-America point of view. Locality pay here isn’t a heck of a lot more than base pay, but I see your point about being in MDW, or another high-COLA area. But again these folks have to be in these positions for years. In the MDW, a 13 never breaks 120K and a 14 has to be a step 6. These are VERY senior folks.

  8. JeffS says:

    Further, I’m betting the SES employees skew fed data tremendously.

    Not as much as you’d think. Check out the organization charts up at the Pentagon level, for example. How many GS-13s are there? SESers are supposed to be the civilian equivalent of a flag officer (God knows why, but did I hear one flag officer say that; he was born a congenital idiot, but he did say that), so there aren’t that many hanging around.

    Statistical data is always slippery; I’m basing my assessment from my observations of the various agencies that I’ve worked with, not an independent evaluation of the data that USA processed.

    And one of those observations is: we have a lot of senior, non-SES employees in the agencies. One reason for that is grade inflation. Another are RIFs, which tend to get rid of junior employees first. And another is the “aging workforce”: if someone stays in long enough, they’ll become “senior” through step increases, if nothing else.

    In the MDW, a 13 never breaks 120K and a 14 has to be a step 6. These are VERY senior folks.

    Check out those pay tables closely. There are many urban areas where 13s approach $120K, and 14’s often hit $120K in those same areas around step 6. I’m not repeating for the sake of repeating; I’m pointing out that a large of the country has that situation. That’ll crank up the average way fast all by itself.

    And there are two datums not available from those tables:

    1. How many GS14s are in those ares; and,

    2. The special rate tables are not shown there. Not the SESers, but the professional areas, the judges, and the other non-general schedules. For example, NSPS is not on the GS tables, but may have been included in the USA analysis. NSPS is not SES (as I’m certain that you realize).

    Really, all I saying is that the USA analysis isn’t that far off. The numbers look reasonable, in a general sense. Without crunching them myself, I won’t go further than that.

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