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Independent analysis of federal and private salary data needed

Independent analysis of federal and private salary data needed

Dorothy Ramienski | Internet Editor | FederalNewsRadio

The issues surrounding pay and benefits for federal employees continues to be a controversial one.

Federal News Radio told you last week that John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, was incensed at an editorial in the Washington Times last week. That op-ed piece claimed that federal employees don’t always work hard to earn their salaries.

Chris Edwards is director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and recently wrote an article about the issue of federal pay and benefits, and Berry’s comments.

USA Today, I think, did an interesting analysis a week ago, where they actually compared 216 different occupations in the private sector and public sector — everything from janitor to chemist — and they found that, in 83 percent of these positions, the federal worker made more in wages. If I was the head of the OPM, I would say — ‘gee, that’s interesting results. We’ll take a look at that information,’ but, rather, he just responded in a very sort of aggressive way that I thought was rather strange.”

The Times editorial was written after a recent article from USA Today compared the financial compensation of similar jobs in the public and private sectors.

That article elicited a response from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which said USA Today compared two different sets of data.

Others, such as the Partnership for Public Service, commented on the USA Today analysis, calling it an ‘apples to oranges’ comparison because of the different nature of public sector and private sector work.

Edwards said he understands why people would say this, but said part of the problem lies with the methodology used to calculate the federal pay gap.

“The current federal pay gap, determined by the ”“>Federal Salary Council, is supposed to be 26 percent — federal worker wages, on average, are supposed to be 26 percent below the private sector. What is really curious about that is, I went back and I looked at, for example, the 2001 Federal Salary Council pay gap number. Back then, it was 22 percent. So, the pay gap has been basically unchanged for years.”

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