Another Grim Milestone: Federal Workers Now Make Twice What Private Workers Earn

Via Chris Edwards at Cato, from recent government data:



  1. Methinks:

    In the Soviet Union, the proletariat was paid 30-50% more than professionals. This is a similar thing.

    The only way this works is if the government is a tiny fraction of the overall economy. It's not. The United States is toast.

  2. colson:

    Wage freeze? I think a federal wage rollback is necessary. The problem is that government wages generally don't stop increasing during periods of economic downturn. They make sure to comp themselves very well.

    As someone in the private sector - how could I not consider going to work for the federal government given my knowledge of the distortion in pay? Look at the general incentive to work for the federal government! Of course I say this tongue-in-cheek. I still have *some* principles left.

  3. DrTorch:

    Unbelievable. Well not really. Fairfax County has been the #1 per capita income often through the recent decade, and most other counties around DC are in the Top 10.

    The consequences of this are staggering, much of the countries resources end up in DC, and the place is gilded w/ excess. Meanwhile there is a talent drain too...

  4. Nobrainer:

    Living in Fairfax County myself, I can sympathize with commentary that federal workers underperform and are overpaid.

    However, this data is painting with such a broad brush that I'm afraid to take it too seriously. What would really be interesting would be an analysis that controls for things such as levels of education, type of education, experience, type of work, etc.

  5. E.B.Darden:

    This isn't true for all federal employees. My husband took a substantial pay cut when he left a private law firm to become a federal prosecutor -- he works just as many hours and has been responsible for the incarceration of dozens of Medicare defrauders. A worthy task I would say -- and at a tremendous cost to our personal finances. Painting with such a broad brush does a disservice to those who are making sacrifices to serve the public.

  6. Chris Yeh:

    My Tweet on this subject was simple:

    Federal employees now make 2X (on average) what private-sector employees make: I will now light myself on fire.

  7. james:

    @ E.B. Darden

    While that may be true in your particular case, the average wage for a private attorney in the U.S. is ~60k. The equivalent in the public sector is likely much higher than this.

  8. mahtso:

    The linked piece shows that there are 1.9 million federal workers and 108 million private; I suspect that the private sector includes tens of millions of low-wage jobs in categories for which there is no federal equivalent (e.g., workers at camp grounds earning the minimum wage).

  9. rxc:

    The Federal govt has been outsourcing jobs for quite a while, to the point where there are lots of managers thinking and planning and monitoring, while the number of Federal workers who actually work, has been dropping. This is a big reason the average pay has been rising, because the managers make more than the workers. This causes a LOT of other problems, because the managers become disconnected from the work, and their planning efforts often become just figments of their imagination. As a former federal worker and manager, I worry more about this disconnection of experience, and less about the average salary. If the people in charge don't know how to do the work, they have not way to judge the performence of the contractors they hire to replace the workers.

    The driving force for the outsourcing has been the observation that private industry has been doing it, and it seems to be a good thing. Not all of us in the govt are convinced that the proper balance in this matter has been reached.