Are Federal Workers Overpaid?

Are Federal Workers Overpaid?

The average federal worker earns more than the average private-sector worker, but may be paid less to do the same work.

Chris McConnell | GovCentral

The Cato Institute, a libertarian leaning think tank, suggests that the average federal worker is paid more than the average private-sector employee, especially when fringe benefits like health insurance and pensions are factored in.

Nancy Folbre, Economics Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in a recent New York Times article, wanted to explore if there was any merit to these claims.

Poll: Are Federal Workers Overpaid?

Poll: Are Federal Workers Overpaid?

With little details provided by organizations about what defines the average federal or private worker, Folbre decided to dig into the details of the Current Population Survey to see what defines the average worker. The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and released every month. For her article, Folbre used calculations from the 2009 March CPS survey.

By her calculations, the average federal worker is older, more educated and works full-time compared to the private sector. While more likely to have employer-paid health care and a pension waiting for them upon retirement, the federal workforce is decidedly middle-class, with the majority earning $25,000 to $75,000 a year. The think tanks may be somewhat accurate, but comparing the average worker only tells half the story.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis explains that the federal workforce is concentrated in professional, administrative, and technical occupations while private-sector positions range from minimum wage to high paid CEO’s.

According to Folbre’s calculations, 43 percent of private-sector workers earn less than $25,000 a year, but the average compensation for Fortune 500 CEO’s in 2008 was $11.4 million each. In comparison, President Obama will earn $400,000 in 2009, though he does get to live rent-free in the White House.

If we compare similar professional occupations, some people may take a pay-cut to work for the federal government.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Some of you people think federal workers have never worked in the "commercial world". You don't have a knowledge of people you are talking about. Do you think there is no stress in the federal workplace. There is plenty. richardbass as far as I am concerned you don't have a clue about jack. Federal workers go at a much slower pace do we. You are just the kind of person that makes me doubt the Amercian people. Get lost. Too l;ate you are lost.

  • Carl_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. $1000 payday loan

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    Thanks for making me aware about the whole issue.I heard Orszag saying "I think the key thing to remember about that is the federal workforce is more highly educated than the private workforce".
    m3 ds

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    I'm not sure they are overpaid but they certainly do not understand the stress of the commercial world. I've had a few federal employees come to work for me in my debt solutions company and they just go at a much slower pace and have no real sense of urgency.

  • Foto1_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Well, I really think that federals workers aren't overpaid. They work very specific job and their job is really responsible and I think that they are worth of these money. All people earning depends on how he is skillful and what is the education level of him or her. But it is only a my own position and it would be really interesting to discuss about this subject with other people here. Thanks a lot one more time for the interesting and useful analysis and keep up publishing these great articles in the future too. Regards, Jeremy Watson from bdsm clubs website

  • Up-s8gkb9cq19hkjqj4-l_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    If anything many non management workers are under paid.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 5 years ago


    mttyflynn, I concur with your statements. I personally feel the need for a "public option" concerning healthcare, however, with this expansion, who will provide treatment for these people. The rate of primary care docs entering the profession is decreasing, since there's more "money" to be made in specialty care. Will Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistants fill the void? I'm no Marxist or Communist either!!

  • Maxdesk


    almost 5 years ago


    I am no Marxist or Communist but this counrty does exploit the labor of the lowest end of society, then complains when they want some kind of affordable medical, a majority of which cannot afford at any price. The wealthy have the hubris to think that society owes them so much bec ause of how great they are. If we had an accountant breakdown value by each person's contibution to a good or service sweat vs $ produced vs talent we would really see just how overpaid executives are and how underpaid your average worker is.

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