2009 December 13 Sunday
Boom Time For US Federal Government Salaries

Party time for higher end government workers.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

19% make more than $100k per year. They average $70k versus $40k in the private sector and of course they have much better benefits and job security.

While lots of people are experiencing declining salaries, reductions in benefits, and suspension of bonus programs federal workers are more than keeping up with inflation.

Then-president Bush recommended and Congress approved across-the-board raises of 3% in January 2008 and 3.9% in January 2009. President Obama has recommended 2% pay raises in January 2010, the smallest since 1975. Most federal workers also get longevity pay hikes called steps that average 1.5% per year.

Longevity pay hikes. Imagine that. US government employees live in a cushy parallel economy at our expense.

It is hard to tell what this means. How has the mix of jobs done by US government workers changed over time? For example, does the federal government still employ janitors or are those jobs out-sourced? Has the average skill level risen? I'm skeptical on that point.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 December 13 05:39 PM  Economics Labor

James Bowery said at December 13, 2009 6:39 PM:

The explanation is simple:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 meant the steady replacement of the posterity of the Founders of the US in civil service with those who are not designated as the beneficiaries of the land trust called the United States in its Constitution, and the government is the primary enemy of the US Constitution.

RKU said at December 13, 2009 8:26 PM:

Q: "It is hard to tell what this means..."

A: The parasites are devouring the host...

Sophia said at December 14, 2009 1:30 AM:

Your ideal business model appears to be to pay everyone as little as possible regardless of the consequences. This is the traditional rape the public model that has not proven to work well since the 1970s. The problem is not that federal employees are paid too well or have it too well but that other employees get to be treated like trash by employers as the official policy in the USA.

Your treat employees like trash model of the ideal economy breaks down by your own prior postings when it comes to illegal immigrants. They're criticized since they're willing to work so cheaply that the lower middle class White people you identify with are in danger of not finding jobs. So which is it? Should we have an economy such that a tiny percentage of filthy rich people treat the rest of us like trash or should we have an economy with a more equitable distribution of wealth to go along with decent salaries and benefits?

Trent Telenko said at December 14, 2009 7:53 AM:


This is an artifact of Federal Employee Demographics.

Since the Federal work force has not increased in size since the 1980's, the Federal workforce over all is getting older, while the GS-schedule is allowing existing workers to get higher step increases as they age. (FYI -- The average age in my agency is 52 years old.)

For instance, the base pay rate for a GS-11 step 1 new hire earns $49,544.

A GS-11 step 10 at the top of the schedule with 15-20 years of service earns $64,403.

Locality pay is per this schedule as follows:


San Francisco has the highest locality pay in the nation at 34.35%.

A San Francisco GS-11 Step one there earns $66,562.

A old sweat San Francisco GS-11 Step 10 earns $86,525.

A large reason for the NSPS civil service py reforms under Sec of Defense Rumsfeld was to avoid the GS-schedule pension benefits melt down that the Federal government is facing from the "High three" that this schedule generates.

mike said at December 14, 2009 9:07 AM:

"Your ideal business model appears to be to pay everyone as little as possible regardless of the consequences."

When someone says something like this, I have to wonder how we ever achieved anything without teaching basic economics in grade school. Then I realize that basic economics is just common sense, and you have to actively brainwash the students with utopian "progressive" delusional thinking to get them to say things this stupid. Then I get mad.

Sophia said at December 14, 2009 1:54 PM:

Mike appears to have not been paying attention to the last thirty years of history in the USA. The invisible hand of the market trickle down, AKA treat employees like trash, economic model failed in the USA. Oh, except for the very rich who the poorer Americans bailed out after the no control market economy failed even for them. Basic economics, as espoused by Republicans, has failed. Meanwhile countries with a more practical economic model have performed better for the majority of their citizens. Sure some people overseas who in the USA who might be worth hundreds of millions of dollars have to get by on their equivalent of tens of million dollars but they seem to manage.

If the economic model in the USA were valid the proponents of it would not have to use their old God, gays and guns arguments to generate support from the ignorant.

Bob Badour said at December 14, 2009 2:49 PM:

Sophia, don't be too smug. The bailout kept the European financial system from going tits up too.

If I had a choice, I would choose the increase of living standards in the US in the last 40 years or so over the increase just about anywhere else in the world. Sure, China has been growing recently, but look at the shithole it was after Mao. It's still mostly a shithole.

Socialism was directly responsible for the murder of 100 million plus human beings in the last century. As an economic model, it has repeatedly and invariably failed miserably with disastrous results.

You talk about Republicans and economics, and you prove you are completely ignorant about both. Shrub was every bit the socialist Clinton was. Shrub's regime was characterized by a big spending big government at the hands of an imbecile--a dry drunk born again Christian imbecile but an imbecile nonetheless. By abandoning his political and economic base to kowtow to his religious base, Shrub single-handedly destroyed the conservative coalition Reagan forged 30 years ago.

Pointing to one failure of a big spending coercive regime to justify another big spending coercive regime is just stupid; albeit, the typical socialist modus operandi.

Fred said at December 14, 2009 7:40 PM:

Bob Badour said at December 14, 2009 2:49 PM:

Forget about her Bob, she is probably Greek.

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