Originally published October 8 2015
Equal pay? Try feeding at the trough! Government employees earn 78% higher wages than private sector
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) In an era where the national debt has soared to record levels and government inefficiency is at an all-time high, should we be rewarding federal employees with pay rates that are substantially higher than those of comparable jobs in the private sector?
A recent study conducted by the Cato Institute revealed that federal workers earn far more than their counterparts in state and local governments, as well as those employed in the private sector.
According to the study:
"In 2014, federal workers earned 78 percent more, on average, than private-sector workers. Federal workers earned 43 percent more, on average, than state and local government workers. The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment, separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy."
In terms of actual pay, the average federal worker receives $84,153 compared to only $56,350 for the 111 million American workers in the private sector.
And when you add in the benefits received by federal workers, the gap widens even further. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the average total compensation — pay, plus benefits — reached $119,934 for federal workers in 2014. Compare that to the private-sector average of $67,246 and you arrive at the "78 percent more" figure.
There are 2.1 million civilian employees employed by the various federal agencies throughout the United States. The combined wages and benefits for civilian workers in the executive branch will cost taxpayers more than $260 billion in 2015.
Over the past two decades, federal pay rates have risen faster than rates in the private sector.
Partial freezes not enoughIn recent years, partial pay freezes on federal wages have been put into effect in response to runaway budget deficits:
"Spurred by the large budget deficits of recent years, policy makers have trimmed the growth in federal wages. In particular, they imposed a partial freeze on federal wages from 2011 to 2013, which saved billions of dollars."
However, the study also shows that "average federal wages grew rapidly for a decade, then slowed during the recent partial pay freeze, and then started rising again in 2014."
Among the conclusions drawn by the author of the study, Chris Edwards, is the fact that even though the partial wage freezes were successful in saving taxpayers billions, Congress should still "overhaul the overly generous federal benefits package."
One way to accomplish this, according to Edwards, is to stop providing defined benefit pension plans for retiring federal workers, following the lead of most private sector employers in recent years.
Edwards also notes that although some would argue that the federal government "should employ the nation's highest-skilled workers, and that it should pay top dollar to get them," the reality is, that by overpaying these workers, an "opportunity cost" is created by keeping them out of the private sector.
"Unlike, say, France, where the best university graduates historically have gone into government, the United States has historically prospered because the best and brightest have flocked to places such as Silicon Valley."
Edwards maintains that working for the government should not be one of the highest-paying employment options for Americans. Rather, by reducing pay scales in the federal sector, turnover would be greater, bringing in younger people with "fresh ideas."
Of course, as things stand now, it's very difficult to fire federal workers, no matter how bad their performance may be. Unions and civil service protection guidelines mean a very low firing rate compared to the private sector.
Oh, the irony...I'm not going to argue that people don't deserve a basic living wage, but it seems rather hypocritical that the overpaid federal sector wants to mandate laws regarding "equal pay," while they themselves are taking home far more than what they deserve and far more than what their private sector counterparts get.
Meanwhile, the American taxpayer is expected to foot the bill for them while also coughing up the extra cash to cover the equal pay mandates.
Are they really entitled to such amounts?
Also, haven't they already bled us enough?
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