The numbers are out – again – and they should come as no surprise to anyone toiling away in the private sector: Federal workers are out-earning their peers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal workers earn about 2 percent more than a comparable worker in the private sector. It’s not perfect. Ideally, government workers should earn the same or a little less. And at one time, maybe they did. The cliché of the overworked, underpaid civil servant has to come from somewhere.
It doesn’t exist anymore. The salaries, only slightly bloated, are a small part of the pie that government workers enjoy. They boast one of the most generous pension systems in the world. Their benefit package, including health insurance, is worth 48 percent more than private sector workers in comparable jobs.
And very few private sector companies even offer defined benefit pensions these days. Instead, private sector workers contribute to their own retirement as well as their health insurance.
The good news is that as the economy faltered in the last several years, Congress has taken action to limit the growth of federal workers’ wallets by instituting pay freezes. Federal workers have not had raises in two years, and a bill in Congress would freeze salaries for another year. The freeze is not only necessary due to the economy, but also serves to help tighten the gap between federal and private sector pay.
Government workers, while providing services to the country, aren’t subject to the same pressures of supply and demand that private sector workers are. Government officials can always charge taxpayers more for government services – whether they are services we use or not – or print more money.
As the last few years have shown, something has to give. High on that list should be the bloated salaries and benefit packages of federal employees.