The Bureau of Economic Analysis released data this month showing that the average compensation for the 1.8 million federal civilian workers in 2005 was $106,579 -- exactly twice the average compensation paid in the U.S. private sector: $53,289. If you consider wages without benefits, the average federal civilian worker earned $71,114, 62 percent more than the average private-sector worker, who made $43,917.
The high level of federal pay is problematic in and of itself, but so is its rapid growth. Since 1990 average compensation for federal workers has increased by 129 percent, the BEA data show, compared with 74 percent for private-sector workers.
In the last 5 years federal pay has increased at over twice the speed of private sector pay.
The structure of that workforce has also changed over time. There are fewer low-pay typists and more high-pay computer experts in the government today than there were a generation ago. But that doesn't explain why, as the BEA data show, federal wages have risen 38 percent in just the past five years, compared with 14 percent in the private sector.
Federal workers have excellent benefits including very high job security.
Federal workers receive generous health benefits during work and retirement, a pension plan with inflation protection, a retirement savings plan with generous matching contributions, large disability benefits, and union protections. They often have generous holiday and vacation schedules, flexible hours, training options, incentive awards, flexible spending accounts, and a more relaxed pace of work than private-sector workers.
Perhaps the most important benefit of federal employment is extreme job security. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the rate of layoffs and firings in the federal workforce is just one-quarter the rate in the private sector. All these advantages in worker benefits suggest that, in comparable jobs, federal wages ought to be lower than private-sector wages.
Modest proposal: Make most federal jobs have the equivalent of term limits. Work for the federal government? For most jobs you should have to leave after 10 or 12 years. This would bring in new blood that is more experienced with how the private sector does things.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 August 29 10:46 PM Economics Government Costs|