August 12th, 2010
01:47 PM ET

Federal workers earning double private sector workers

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the economy - with nearly 10 percent unemployment - is struggling to get on its feet, it seems like it's still a pretty good time to work for the federal government.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/12/art.dc.bldgs.jpg caption=""]
USA Today reports that on average, federal employees earn double what private sector workers make. In 2009, federal civil servants earned about $123,000 - that's the total of pay and benefits... compared to $61,000 for private workers.

For nine years in a row, federal workers have been getting bigger pay and benefit increases than private employees... and the compensation gap between the two groups has grown from $30,000 10 years ago to almost $62,000 today.

Unions for public employees insist this is because most federal jobs require a high level of skill and education; and because the government contracts out many lower-paying jobs to the private sector.

But a lot of people don't buy that argument. Critics say federal workers are overpaid. And Republicans in Congress want to cancel the 1.4 percent across-the-board pay hike for federal workers that Pres. Obama is calling for.

Consider this: federal compensation has grown nearly 37 percent since 2000... compared to less than nine percent for private sector employees.

It's no wonder our government can't keep a lid on spending with statistics like this... the federal budget deficit just for the month of July was more than $165 billion. Meanwhile millions of Americans are losing or have lost their jobs, and millions of others have been forced to take a pay cut.

Here’s my question to you: In this economy, should federal workers be earning twice what private sector workers do?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Greg writes:
Every government faces this question and the answer is always obviously 'yes'. The problem is if you freeze wages or cut back you will only see strikes and discontent. You think they do things slowly now? Try messing with their paycheck and see what happens.

Ken in Maryland writes:
As a private-sector contractor working for the government, I can tell you first-hand that the argument made by "unions for public employees" is accurate. Averages can be deceiving. Private sector jobs include lots of typically low-paid and minimum wage jobs. Jobs held by government workers tend to be higher level positions... Some government workers are overpaid for what they do, and many private sector workers are underpaid but it's not an across-the-board thing. A global statement can't be made like that.

Lizzie in Los Angeles writes:
I'd love to have a government job. I'd love to have any job. But alas, we 60-somethings are looked at with disdain and contempt even by the government. But we'll be around to vote come November.

Buddy in Illinois writes:
Jack, I don't know if all federal employees are being overpaid, but I'm pretty sure there are 535 overpaid federal employees on Capitol Hill.

Jeff writes:
I am a federal employee and have been working for the past month to have our salaries frozen for 2011. But the powers that be are still going to give us a raise. This is insane.

Joe in Chicago writes:
Jack, Self-entitlement in the government is out of control. Public service was once honorable, but now it is as corrupt as any other union.

Sylvia in San Diego writes:
No, no and no. And if you do not believe me, just visit your local Social Security Office and witness first hand the incompetence, inefficiencies and lack of customer focus that these government employees exhibit. It will make you weep!

Filed under: Economy
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Ralph Spyer

    The federal budget is running a deficit because we have two wars going on, we hand out no bid contracts; we cut the taxes on the top one percent of Americans that make the most. We give aid to Wall Street,middle east countrys. Our Navy still thinks their a cold war . Children of non Citizens are in our schools,Non citizens pay no taxes and take Americans jobs.but we are running a deficit because of federal workers ? ARE YOU NUTS????

    August 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  2. MIke in TX

    It wasn't that long ago they were hollering about not being able to keep employee's because the wages and benefits were so far behind the private secrtor. Now they make more and as usual you just can't please many folks. Whether the pay is justified or not the American way is that if there is a job your qualified for in the govt. you should go apply for it and do all you can to get it. A couple of years from now, when the economy turns around with more jobs than applicants again you'll see the private sector wages start to come up again.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  3. Luke

    I recently turned down a $56,000 offer for a starting position in the private sector to accept a $47,000 offer from the federal government in a location with the same cost of living. I accepted the job with the federal government knowing that I will make LESS money over my lifetime than I would in the private sector because of the tendency of federal government jobs to cap pay around the $150,000 mark.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  4. George from SC


    Wait, Wait, Wait. Who told you that Republicans want to cut the proposed cut of 1.4%. Its the other way of around. You Lie "Joe Wilson" wants to increase it to 1.9%, saying the men and women of the Armed Forces and the federal employees that support them deserve the raise. Look it up. I am Soldier (and you can call me a government employee) and I can tell you the pay is not the best, but I am blessed to have a job that puts food on table and a house over my family's head.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    Considering how the Republicans decimated the private sector, I certainly don't understand why you're complaining here. Maybe you'll be happy when we all earn what the Chinese earn, Jack? Republicans certainly will. Then they can save on shipping costs.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  6. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    The idea that federal employees require a level of skill and education higher than that of private employees is ludicrous. I worked for a company that had constant contact with federal workers and thought that a lot of them couldn't find their backsides given a map, a compass and written directions. Federal employees are way overpaid and on top of that they get tons of vacation and just about every holiday on the calendar. There's no way they work a long or anywhere near as hard as those of us in the private sector.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  7. Scott Stodden

    I Don't Think That Private Sector Jobs Should Get More Than Federal Goverment Workers But Don't You Think That Federal Goverment Workers Get To Much All Ready? The Goverment Should Put A Pay Raise Ban On All Federal Goverment Working Jobs Until After The Recession And Let The Private Sector Jobs People Get More Raises!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    August 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  8. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Ontario)

    The obscene wage gap between private and public workers is not even the most egregious issue.
    What is even worse is the fact that 99 per cent of public service workers are so incredibly unproductive.
    America had better fix this problem soon or things are going to get ugly. Civil unrest will result if the resentment level gets much higher.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Barb MN

    I say good for them. Do we really want a race to the bottom for wages? Besides, we need the taxes they pay.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  10. Ray in Nashville

    Wow, Jack, I remember when the feds complained that they could not compete with the private sector for workers. It's funny that this has changed since the republicans took control of DC, beginning with the Reagan years. While their policies were destroying the middle class and sending American jobs overseas, this pay gap happened. I wonder how much of that gap is weighted towards the upper crust? To answer your question, no, it's not right.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  11. andyz

    Are you guys on drugs? I spend close to ten years working in the Army Acquisition Corps. My counterparts, the prime contractors personnel, were making 30-70% more than I did. They were doing the work and I had oversight ensuring the were complying with the specifications in the contract. Remember, when an IT position is given to a contractor, the contractor gets their cut off the top, money goes to the contractors health care plan, and finally the contractors employee gets their salary. Even with all of this money going into differernt pots; the contractor's employee makes much more than I did. Were you comparing a fast food employees salary with a senior government manager? Pshaw!

    August 12, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  12. honest John in Vermont

    Not only do we over pay our federal civil servants; we also overpay the congress and senate and all their cushy benefits you won't find in the private sector either.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  13. Bob in Florida

    Well Jack, I DO ""NOT"" BELIEVE the report from USA Today AT ALL. For as long as I have been paying attention (40 years) federal workers HAVE NOT earned as much as private sector emplyees. UNLESS the corporate atmosphere is SCREWING workers (fat chance of that happening, HUH?) most corporate professional have been lured away from federal jobs since forever. Oh, and I notice there is no source quoted, did someone just make this up?

    August 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  14. Terry in Chandler, AZ

    Absolutly Jack. And I would be happy to quit my $90k per year/60 hour work week private sector job for a cushy $125k/ 40 hour work week with the federal government. And I can'tforget those wonderful benefits I would be getting. Almost as good as working with Wolf Blitzer.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  15. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    Every government faces this question and the answer is always obviously yes. The problem is if you feeze wages or cut back you will only see strikes and discontent. You think they do things slow now try messing with their paycheck and see what happens.

    August 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  16. Mary Steele Yorktown VA

    Before deciding that, let's start with cutting Congress' salary until OUR economy is back on track!!! Start with removing illegals out of much-needed jobs. How bad does it have to be before our government takes responsibility?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  17. John from San Antonio

    Absolutely they should. Everyone knows that servants always make more money and have better perks than their employers have.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Mary Steele Yorktown VA


    Let's not punish federal workers because our federal government allows our wages to be suppressed by the continuing assault by employers who hire illegals!!

    Yorktown VA

    August 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  19. val

    The real joke is the Federal Employees get in @ 9:30am, have a coffee break @ 10.30am, prepare for lunch @11:30am, get back from lunch @ 1:30pm, have a coffee break @ 2:30pm prepare to leave @ 3:30pm, usually get home @ 4:30 pm. Now if all American workers had that schedule, they all could watch those "retarded" Late Night Shows, that seem so popular with CNN hosts. Especially those who really have time on their hands; cause they make their "Mashed Potatoes" from a box 🙂

    August 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  20. Arnold MI

    Yes, government workers earn a respectable income.

    How much money makes you rich? Fortune Magazine says we need between $100k & $300k a year at retirement to retire comfortably and most of us won't come close to that with private sector jobs.

    I have said for 10 years that the middle class starts at $100k a year, so I wouldn't say that federal workers are overpaid, the private sector workers are underpaid.

    If we want to look at overpaid individuals, try the sports players, bankers, and corporate executives who make more money in one month than the majority of the people make in their entire lifetime.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  21. Karl from SF, CA

    Let’s see now: Don’t “contractors” like Blackwater’s “soldiers” make a lot more than our troops doing the same work. Speaking of nine years ago, wasn’t it about then when President Bush cut taxes and encouraged corporate Americas to ship all those middle class jobs overseas? Finally, when everyone is paid the same regardless of what they do: Isn’t that called Communism? Let’s quit trying to degrade our workforce and create jobs that pay a decent wage. Why aren’t we talking about bringing back the WPA and rebuilding our dying infrastructure? We either keep putting money into our economy, regardless of the current debt, or it all goes down the tubes and what we think we saved is irrelevant.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  22. Krishna

    Absolutely not! They have pension too, to add. Private sector employees have 401(K) and the job insecurity on the top. Public Employees Unions think federal employees have more skills? They must be kidding and it certainly is a joke! Federal employees are overpaid and they should get zero raise this year and small ones in the succeeding years until the gap is closed. PERIOD.

    LCF, CA

    August 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  23. Dennis north Carolina

    NOI, NO, NO. we are not the slave who should support a upper class of workers. Equal pay for similar jobs plus equal benefits per job, it is the only fair response.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  24. Gigi Oregon

    They may earn more at the top federal jobs. But they also pay higher taxes. And leave it to the Republicans that want to cut pay raises for the worker then vote to give themselves a pay raise. Lets freeze salaries for those elected drones till they get our government out of trouble that would be a better fix on our national debt. And Republicans are those good ole boys that let all the jobs go overseas, borrowed money from China and lifted regulations on banks. It's time to put some honesty back in America. The Republican party does not work for the masses they work for anyone that lines their pocket.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  25. Olga O. Pina

    I love the mentality of this country!

    Why don't we put custodians to do heart surgery?

    Why don't we hire camels to teach our children? Better yet, hire Dan Quayle's son as the Royal King of Education?

    How about wrestlers becoming President of the United States?

    Of course Federal workers should be our victims; not negative politicians who refuse to do their jobs by just saying 'NO!" to anything that is good for our people. Let's victimize those that have served us for years and have dedicated their skills and talent to do their jobs!


    What is next?

    Austin, Tx

    August 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  26. EB

    If federal workers earn it, why not?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  27. Beth Morgan

    In NO economy should federal workers be earning twice what private sector workers earn!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  28. Chirag

    The fact that federal workers are contributing directly to the growth of our country merits them the reward of earning more money than workers in the private sector.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  29. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I remember when government work didn't pay much, but the benefits were worth it. I spent 22 years in the military (between 1969 and 1991) and I didn't earn much as an enlisted member, but the benefits were supposed to be worth it.
    I think that for most workers the pay isn't as inflated as it appears. I do know that many government workers are hanging on as long as they can, and with step increases even a GS-5 could earn a substantial salary. Some day they will start retiring though, and then the gap should decrease.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  30. Gail Evans

    When you add in the fact that Federal workers get every holiday in book off....the answer is a resounding NO!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  31. Rob

    Federal Workers make huge sacrifices that private sector workers couldn't imagine. I am a US Army soldier and earn every dime that I make, and actually am very pleased with my compensation and benefits that are great. Private sector workers should deploy to a war zone 5 times like I have since 2002 and then they can complain about my pay raises and bonuses!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  32. Carole

    I agree regarding federal employees. I am a retired federal employee and definately never complained. On the other hand you need to look at the compensation package for teachers and post what their wages look like with the benefits added. I think you will be surprised. We all need to cut back. Retirees are not receiving raises currently and I have no issue with that considering the state of the economy.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  33. Joseph Leff

    Just out of curiosity, Jack, how much did our Congress critters' pay increase in the past ten years. Social Security this year was actually reduced due to the increased cost of Medicare, but somehow they voted themselves a pay increase. Maybe we should look at reducing their pay.

    Joe in Delray Beach, Florida

    August 12, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  34. John from San Antonio

    Jack this obscene difference in pay is magnified when you consider that for every job the federal government has 11 people doing it. It is also a complete lie that they have a higher skill level. Most could not survive in a competitive enviornmnet.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  35. Josh McElhiney

    As appualing as this is, I don't find it very surprising. For the past several years, in my home state of Ohio, government workers have been earning inflated salaries. In investigating government salaries – both at the state level & federal level, I think we also need to investigate those government employees that are collecting full-retirement packages while also earning a "second career" salary and retirement package.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  36. sally

    Ttrace the rate of pay raises since 2000 how many of them occured during the free spending Bush administration? Like most the people in the private sector the Federal employees should be in a pay freeze. Of course the right wing will blame Obama for this. Stop spending, and freeze salaries including CONGRESS.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  37. Yuu

    For base pay scales, yes Jack, but look again at the higher eschelons of power. For people in the mineral management services, the FCC or Congress, the time spent in the Fereral Government pays nothing compared to the private industries's offered positions. If anything, the federal government treats its lowest earning employees something resembling a living wage, not a claim most private companies can make.

    This "pay envy" is nothing more the resentment the have nots have for the have littles. Power and money, as always are reserved for those already in power, and those who can corrupt and mismanage our most valuable resources.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  38. steve- virginia beach

    Federal workers shouldn't be making twice what the private sector makes in any economy. The fact that they are is evidence that the government should have never been unionized in the first place. Unions once served a useful purpose but have morphed into one of the most destructive forces in our economy.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  39. John

    I'd like to know where they got their stats...I make @40,000 a year, add benefits, and it jumps to a massive 68,000. Must of got all their info from the upper crust (GS-13's and up) cause I sure don't see that. As usual, the Senior Executive Services (SES) get paid to take credit for what us "worker bees" do....wish I could see that kind of pay and benefits at my level. They need to look at cutting the SES positions along with the Flag/General officer positions as opposed to cutting our lower level spots, but we know that won't happen....

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  40. Dale Crowe

    While I agree that the disparity in pay is at near criminal levels, I think you are looking at it from the wrong side. The private sector has surpressed wages for decades in the great American squeezing of the middle class in the name of profit margins.

    The answer isn't to cut pay for Government employees. The answer is to pass legislation to force business to pay something closer to a living wage. The status quo is the closest thing we've had to legal slavery since the Civil War.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  41. Jim

    The problem with the compensation gap isn't that government employees are paid too much. Private sector employees are simply paid too little.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  42. Mike C

    Fed workers always have made more than the general private sector workers. Thats why education is key for the 21st century, so those like me in the private sector can make a good living and support my family. Three words BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!! everybody.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  43. Patrick

    I have no idea what Government workers you're refering to, but I am a retired Government employee who never earned more than $38,000 in my 30+ years of service. And I depend,each year,on a "Cost of Living" raise, which by the way...I didn't rate one this year, and there won't be one next year either....HELLO...it must be a "different Government that you folks are refering to!!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  44. George

    So are you saying that the men and women in uniform should also not get a pay increase? They put there lives at risk everyday for freedom humping 100 lbs back packs on there backs day in and day out. They can be called in to hostile fire areas at any given time. They are away from there family's for not months but years and I mean years at A time. So think about what you about to comment here while you sit in your a/c home while others are out there in the hot desert!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  45. Ross

    No Jack, they should not. I am from San Antonio, Texas and I recently found out, through the grapevine, that the county auditor is currently making $170,000 a year! Federal or not this is absurd. Especially since this county is in debt up to our ears. Meanwhile the other people in her office are scraping by just trying to keep the lights on with salaries under $40,000 a year. Its time to put this type of unfair allocation of tax payer money to an end.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  46. docb

    Sure ,Jack, as long as we start with Congress...The Senators have approximately 20,000 sq ft of office space in DC.. All filled with aides and assistants... THey got a raise this year too! Start there and when we are at a equal person salary for hours worked and benefits then we take the Advice of the GOP and cut the gov't salaries that the Republicans gave out!

    Might help if they, Congress, had a cap on their travel expenses too!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  47. Vern

    Jack, I do not where you are getting your information but you and those are wrong. I have been a federal emplyee for over 23 years and I have just reached an income of $41,000 annually. I ask that you speak to the real federal employess and not the critics. Check the pay scale, it is public information to all.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  48. Ray Hoopes

    Jack ...
    Federal workers should be earning the same as the private sector for equivalent jobs. An active program to make these comparisons should be used. Federal workers should also be held to the same productivity standards as the private sector. Congress people should be forced to ask for raises from their constituents instead of giving themselves raises.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  49. Diana D. Houston TX

    Yes, in fact private jobs should pay more.
    Higher salaries promote economic growth as they increase consumption of goods and services and they are good for the economy overall.
    On the other hand lower salaries promote stagnation and stunt growth.
    I ask republicans: why does trickle down economics only work for the rich?
    Why is it that pumping money into the already rich leads to prosperity, but creating good paying jobs for the middle class does not?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  50. A.B.

    Jack, federal employees are not overpaid. Your statistics are wrong. Federal employees should get paid what they truely deserve. Private sector employees are the ones who are overpaid and earn 25% more than public employees. I am also factoring in private sector bonuses, profit sharing plan compensation and health benefits and other perks. Federal employees get little or no perks and definitely do not get profit sharing compensation. Few public employees get a bonus or award for their performance. Bonus compensation is very common among private sector employees. I am a federal employee and I resent your attacks on public employees and ingratitude. I would rather that you just say thank you for the service that I and other public employees render to you in countless ways and then go on your way.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  51. Mohammed Ahad

    The question shouldve been what % pay cut should the fed worker are going to get. As we have seen how much private sector workers have given up by being unemployed and underemployed. Now its the time for feds and federal workers to do their part to help America and its budget.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  52. Sheila Kelly

    The problem isn't that public workers are paid too much; the problem is that private industry workers have been downsized and outsourced for the past 30 years leading to flat or declining wages. The emergence of the two worker family has helped obscure the decline in real value of private workers' income. Many public employees are also members of unions who fight for their members' wages. Unions have helped many remain in the middle class during this wholesale downsizing of the middle class. I'm tired of everyday Americans being upset when one group actually makes a decent wage. We should all stand together and fight for higher wages for everyone. Workers in the past died to give us the 40 hour week and minimum wage. What will we do to fight for higher wages?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  53. Ebony

    I would like to know where you are getting these numbers from. I am a civil service worker in GA and before that I worked the same job in the private sector. My pay didn't increase when I switched over, I actually took a pay cut. Maybe it's just D.C that gets paid almost double.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  54. Rose344

    It's sad that people hear something on the news, or read a magazine and assume it's true. My family were ALL FEDS and did/do NOT get paid what their degrees command in the private sector. They served necause they were taught to serve our country. It's a shame so many look DOWN upon civil servant. I bet you'd be the FIRST to complain when those services are NOT THERE!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  55. Dorothly Buran

    Is our government paying too much to its workers, or are businesses paying too litle? As Warren Buffet mentioned some time back, he's afraid we are being turned into a bunch of share croppers. Perhaps businnesses are hoping to pay its workers like a third world country.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  56. Emmy

    When looking for jobs in the nursing arena, I have noticed that the VA jobs pay an unusualy high rate for the area that where I live compared to the other hospitals. One of the nurses that I used to work with went to work in the operating room at the VA a few years ago, and has boasted about how much money she makes and how little work she has to do in the operating room compared to the community hospital that she used to work in. I also have heard tales of over $100,000 worth of brand new surgery equipment that was discarded at Ft. Drum in Watertown, NY a few years ago after a new healthcare facility was built and then they changed plans and threw everything away. What a sin when many hospitals have to scrape by with old equipment for surgery!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  57. val

    Well we all know how difficult the average working day is for Federal and State Employees. LOL
    Compare that to the average American Worker that works for all those companies and small businesses that are the foundation of the US economy (so it is said on CNN). Worker Up @ 6:00am prepare to go to work, @7:00am leave to go to work, @ 8:00 or 8:30am get to work, @10:30am have a coffee break, @12:30pm start lunch @1:00pm finish lunch, @2:30pm have a coffee break, @ 5:00pm leave work @7:30pm arrive home, prepare supper, eat supper @ 10:30pm (the latest) GO TO BED. 🙂

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  58. Bootros

    This is an outrage, and I don't understand why would the President be pushing for a 1.4% raise. I think that the President should fire some of his advisers.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  59. R. A. Maland

    I am sick of hearing that federal workers get more/double pay compared to the private sector. In my 37 years of federal service MY PAY RAN 10 TO 20% BEHIND MY PRIVATE SECTOR COUNTERPART! The people making the big bucks in government are the upper management, senators, congressmen, (you get the picture). The average Joe in government does not make twice the pay. Check out the GS Pay Scale – most Fed workers are GS01 thru GS12! Give it a rest

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  60. John

    No, federal workers shouldn't be making twice as much, but why insist on blaming them? The problem is the private sector. CEO pay has grown multiple times the amount of that of the average worker, and with the assault on unions in this country it's no wonder private sector pay is down. We should focus on improving things for private sector workers instead of begrudging federal employees the benefits they've fought for.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  61. Nass

    The seeming disparity between federal employees and private sector workers is not because federal employees are vastly over paid. Rather, it is because the largest private sector salaries are paid to CEOs and other senior executives in a socially acceptable pyramid scheme. Federal salaries, on the other hand, are more evenly distributed from top to bottom and across the board.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  62. Teresa Bertges

    Why would anyone be surprised? Let the gov't run anything and it's going to be upside down, cost way too much, and get way out of control. They need to get rid of the unions and start basing salaries, benefits, and number of employees on reality.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  63. Patrick McCormick

    Federal and other government employees are getting fat while the rest of US choke on debt. Since they are responsible for our affairs, I think their pay should be tied to the economy more directly. They can make more in good years and less in lean years. There is no reason for the excess. It is an insult to the rest of US. An across the board pay cut of 40 or so percent is in order.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  64. John P

    Jack, I don't think federal employees are paid too well. However, I do think there is way too much disparity in compensation between high paid and low paid workers within the private sector. As the job market destabilizes, employees in the private sector (especially low level employees) are forced to do more for less just to stay employed while the costs of things like education and healthcare continue to grow at alarming rates.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  65. Angry Citizen

    What a travesty! The give billions away without any oversight; they give away money to illegals who dont deserve it; and they give themselves pay raises based on my taxes. But wait, I'm not working because I can not get a job, so whose money are they giving away? Oh yeah, our kids future.

    The government is too big; they should go thru the same downsizing and right sizing activities that private companies have had to do.

    There's no restraint and no integrity, only thru an act of God will this trend be reversed. Time for another american revolution.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  66. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    That's called incentive hiring to make one job look more delicious then the other maybe the should cut out the dessert .

    August 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  67. Al from Naples Florida

    Jack, I worked for the federal government in DC for years, in and around several agencies. There are way too many government workers. The dead wood is merely pushed aside, and agencies, offices, and managers hire more and more employees. Posh Office furniture, elaborate buildings, and accommodations, lengthy overseas travel that is unnecessary, I've seen it all. Government workers are vastly overpaid. Unfortuneately, I don't believe this administration has the courage to change this. Please don't give up on this and fight for a change as you have on so many important issues. Thank you Jack, for tackling such a tough issue.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  68. gary gannaway

    For years people traded lower salaries in government service for job security. (Ask any engineer.) Now it turns out that the private sector is not able to combine money and security in a way that competes with government offers. The feds aren't offering more; the private sector is offering less.
    GG in Austin, Texas

    August 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  69. Jackie Jones

    No. Federal employees should not be making more money than the private sector employees. The private sector is selling goods and services whereas the government does not sell anything. The government employees would not have a job if non government employees stopped paying taxes. When you consider the high unemployment rate, the 1% to 2% and in some cases no pay increases that private sector employees received in 2009 and 2010, not to mention our deficit, government employees should not get a raise in 2010. Now I understand why people strive for government jobs. And, the excuse that they have more experience is ridiculous. I love Obama, but this one makes no sense. Hopefully, Obama gets this message and leave this issue alone.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  70. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – Averages are misleading – Feds employ 2500 Senior Executive Service at $200K/yr, but no janitors, maids, or car washers. The number that is MEANINGFUL is not given – MEDIAN pay, what half of government employees get more than, vs what half of private sector employees get more than. Also, financiers do not get "pay" – most of their income is not counted here. Figures do not "lie" but they are easily misused and misunderstood. Government pay for regulators is less than private pay for those regulated. Government lawyers make less than private sector lawyers, govt accountants get less than private sector accountants, same is true for every job category. Maybe, private sector pay is TOO LOW! Most low paying jobs serving government are now outsourced by govt to contractors, making "private" look like more people getting less money!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  71. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    That's called incentive hiring to make one job look more delicious then the other maybe they should cut out the dessert .

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  72. Nedra (from Tall Timbers, MD)

    Jack, one of the main problems with these statistics is they don't explain that most Federal workers are required to have a security clearance. In today's society, the people who can qualify for these clearances are few and far between. These employees have to have an almost sterile background. I know, I was one of them. I interviewed many many people for positions in the government only to find out that the majority have issues (financial, drug related, foreign contacts or psychological problems). If our representatives in Washington had to go through the same rigorous screening, most of them would not be employed.
    As far as the benefits, we had to pay for our health insurance it is was not cheap. The only other benefits is the 13 days of federal leave and all government contractors that I know of get these same days off.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  73. Simpleton

    This is just a simple suggestion from a simple person, if there is an unemployed person capable of doing a Federal employees job, then pay them both 60K and split the job in half so they only work 20 hrs a week. This US will solve the unemployment problem and the employees will be happier.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  74. Melva

    Whether Federal workers should make more money than other people doing similar jobs is a moot point. In this economy, I don't believe that federal workers should have a raise this year. That includes the members Administrative, Executive, Legislative Federal workers. Many non-Federal workers who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs have not received raises for the past few years, have had to take pay cuts as well as having to take several days of furloughs. Federal employees should not be treated differently.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  75. Susan Hodgson

    Jack, that's a solid NO NO NO. They should give back half of anything they are earning because that is what the private sector receives for comparable work. Why should we pay for lazy, uneducated people to earn these wages when those of us who went to college, competed in the free enterprise system, learned to multitask ourselves to death, pay for those who produce less work, hold jobs where it takes an act of god to be fired from, earn twice what we earn. When I was coming up in the work force, it was a joke if you took a federal job because those who went for jobs like those were seen as non competitve, lazy workers who went for job safety. I guess the jokes on us because we are supporting this overbloated population of the uneducated elite.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  76. Overworked and Underpaid

    I have worked for the federal government for 28 years. I wish I was making $123,000 a year! I am also working two jobs at the same time because I recently got a promotion, and the agency because of budget issues has not replaced me. So I guess since I am working two jobs that I should get $246,000 a year! I'm also still waiting for my $10 million bonus!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  77. Jason

    Hey Jack I am a current Federal Employee, Prior Military, and College degree under my belt, everyone in my office has the same even more experience and education, we put in very long hours day and night, working on holidays and weekends, there is no option in my type of work, protecting our homeland, I do agree with the current pay that us federal employees get, the work load does equal out and sometimes is more then the pay that we are currently getting.

    San Diego, CA

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  78. Kelly

    I am an ivy league graduate who has substantial college and graduate school debt. I chose to work for the federal government because of my love for this country, but also because it offered a salary that would allow me to meet my educational debt obligations and live a modestly comfortable life.

    My salary is still significantly lower than my earning potential in the private sector. Please recognize this - the federal government will NOT be able to attract the best talent if they are not willing to pay for it.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  79. Glenn from St.Petersburg

    No Jack. It's bad enough that federal workers are being overpaid. But the worst of the bunch are the senators and congressmen, who without thought give themselves raises so often, and retire with full pay after only one term. They ought to be made to subsist on Social Security like the rest of us. We Americans aren't stupid, we can plainly see the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Washington establishment. Shame on them all.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  80. Chris

    Public sector overpaid? ...or private sector underpaid, for years corporations and businesses have found ways for decades to pay their workers less, cutting essential benefits, and working longer and harder hours. Do you really want to blame people for their "entitlement package" that they paid for themselves in SS tax? What else are we willing to try to snake out of the American worker? Oh yeah, lets attack the public sector to make them look like their getting paid more, when reality is the private sector is paid waaaay below average..

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  81. Kevin

    Jack, you're statement is very misleading. You're comparing apples to oranges. A more fair comparison would be to compare Federal and Private sector employees performing the same or similar jobs. With such a comparison, the disparity would be much different and show exactly the opposite results. Employees get compensated for their level of experience and responsibility. That's part of a thing called Capitalism, you may have heard of it.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  82. Joe Basanda

    Jack, it just goes to show everyone how much money this country wastes, regardless of whether it's spending hundreds of Billions by the inept Gov't or us idiots paying hundreds of Millions to watch some due throw a basketball, baseball, football, etc. With the way the US wastes, money, food, clothing, etc, were like the Yankees, we just buy our success! Oh well we all want winners hey!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  83. John, Fort Collins, CO

    FDR is now approaching sainthood for his programs designed to create jobs through massive Federal spending that would trickle down into the general economy. So what is different now? At least our Federal employees aren't on the same pay scale as the Wall Street financial jerks who damn near drove our entire economy into the dirt.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  84. sab

    jack i heard your question that federal workers make more the the private sector. I was a federal employee for 32 years and I never made the much money. I would appreciate it if you would state the positions of the federal employees that were in that wage bracket. you have several position below the management that don't see salaries in that range, even at my highest grade I never had a salary in the range you quoted. please check the facts

    August 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  85. Dan from Dayton, Ohio

    The public servants who live off of our paychecks, should take the same haircut we in the private sector do. Espicially the elite policians.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  86. Dea311

    Sorry, but you Federal workers should not only NOT get a raise but take a pay cut from the 37% increases you have received while we poor schmo's are out here losing our jobs, our credit scores and our homes!

    These banks out here are NOT moderating or in any way trying to help us keep our homes, they are sitting on the bail out money in fear of this recession getting worse, while we lose our homes to "those with money" who can steal them for a pittance after we took such good care and upgraded them. For shame on all the greedy Bast......d's who have done this to middle America. For shame! Fort Lauderdale, FL

    August 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  87. Ken Barclay Seattle WA

    If congress is willing to take a pass on their pay increases then I might be willing to reduce the 4% increase in my military retirement pay. You've lumped military pay into the federal employment statistics. When my local operating engineer's union is being shot at and have to worry about car bombs and explosive devices buried in their construction sites, maybe then will I be able to justify a reduction in the pay of federal employees. There is no civilian equivalent to a 50 caliber machine gunner!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  88. M. Martinez

    This is outrageous. The Federal Government WON"t protect and maintain our borders, Federal employees earn 37% more than the comparable private sector, and our president is now pushing, in this economy, for yet another raise for Federal employees? This bunch is as bad as our bankers. I've never so deeply regretted voting for any other president. I feel I've been conned and am being robbed.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  89. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    At least those fed workers are domestic. Here's a fix to the problem. Tax the ever living hell out of those corporations and executives who have shipped jobs/mfr/services overseas to low wage paying countries. Offer those corporations and execs a huge tax refund they bring those outsourced product/services back.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  90. J Ryan

    I would be interested to see what percentage of this gap is do to the excessive benefit packages that government employees are privy to. If anything the heavy unionization of the federal employees is most likely the greatest contributing factor for such a great difference between the public and private sectors. I see this as a grand scale example of unions run a muck, that calls for the breaking or complete restructuring of union labor in America. Union employees are too often over paid, over catered to, and under worked.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  91. Arlene, Illinois

    Hey Jack on my $ 692. dollar monthly Social Security check
    I sure could have used the COLA increase this year. Maybe
    next year instead of their pay raises at least they have a job.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  92. Charles Cummings

    Jack, maybe the problem isn't that Government employees are making too much. Maybe the problem is that workers in private enterprise aren't being paid enough. The productivity gains that increased the wages of average workers in the past have gone to the top wage earners in the last decade and a half leaving workers in the private sector just struggling to get by. It's also difficult to export government jobs to lower wage countries, so the race to the bottom for the lowest paid workers isn't applicable to government workers.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  93. Nick

    I have a graduate degree and work at a private healthcare company as a financial analyst. Having talked with peers that work in public, private, and federal government jobs I can attest that this seems to be the case.

    Friends working for the Federal Government in branches ranging from the census to homeland security openly joke about the amount they get paid verses the actual work they accomplish. Additionally, friends graduating from top law schools have also stated more top students are electing government jobs over top firms.

    It seems inefficiency and poor capital allocations are king in the Federal government.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  94. Willie Gene Wynn - Shreveport

    Jack – This is only the latest plot orchestrated to change our government which will, down the road, bear "unintended consequences". Are we forgetting how across the past few years we have complained because our food chain became contaminated, weird stuff happened at our airports, the blood banks became contaiminated with tainted blood, the banks gave out home loans that a child wouldn't do? There is a great shortage of regulators in this country which allows the constantly erupting problems within our society to occur, Cut government employees (regulaters) and it only follows that those kind of problems continue. But if you look at what has been happening to our country over the past 30 years this is only bound to happen. We aren't learning a thing.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  95. Joe Basanda

    Jack, it just goes to show everyone how much money this country wastes, regardless of whether it's spending hundreds of Billions by the inept Gov't or us idiots paying hundreds of Millions to watch some DUDE throw a basketball, baseball, football, etc. With the way the US wastes, money, food, clothing, etc, were like the Yankees, we just buy our success! Oh well we all want winners hey!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  96. Christina

    I am a federal employee (military) that just returned from Iraq. I can tell you that my civilian counterparts in Iraq were making 2 to 3 times as much as me and my fellow Soldiers. However, when you compare my job (when I am not deployed) to a civilian job in the US (a job that does not require a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan every 2 to 3 yrs), then, yes, I am sure that my pay is more.

    But then you are not comparing apples to apples. This needs to be taken into consideration. There are many additional requirements of Soldiers and many sacrifices that they have to make that their civilian counterparts do not have to deal with. So, please, do not compare my job to a civilian job that does not require these sacrifices.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  97. Glenn from St.Petersburg

    The only example I can think of that's rediculous is that of postal workers. Some make over $20/hour for walking or riding around putting mail in a box. How much skill does that take? I don't have anything against postal workers, but come on.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  98. Victor

    It's not right that Fed. employees get paid more than private sector employees. We, the taxpayers have to pay for them Govt. jobs. The private sector is more efficient at creating jobs and keeping employee costs down. What incentive does the Fed. Govt. have to keeping costs down?

    Also, the Govt. employees should not be getting a pay increase.
    The Fed. Govt. employees should be glad that they even have a job.
    They should have to take pay cuts to keep in line with our bad economy at this time.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  99. John, SF Bay Area, CA


    In a word, NO!

    As a taxpayer, I am appalled to know that my money is going in the pockets of people who only by an act of congress can be let go, who have no accountability to anyone for a quality job done and will earn 70-80% of that outrageous salary for the rest of their lives in retirement. Yes that is 87K to 98K on average for doing NOTHING all on the taxpayers.

    Greed has taken over for common sense and common decency. This story is only one of the many instances of this both in the government and in the private sector.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  100. tom jones

    Yes Jack they should make twice as much as the private sector, since the private sector OUTSOURCES every high tech job which drives salaries to poverty level. Most of the Federal employees making 70k+ have Masters Degrees and came from the private sector, we are the best at what we do. You GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR Jack, or maybe you want to outsource our federal jobs to India?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  101. Steve

    Jack, Let's look at how many Czar's has this President added to his staff since his electiion. Not to mention their salaries. Next look at the Defense contracts handed out to private companies that have Military soldiers in place doing the same job. These contractors are being paid a hefty salary to do the same job as the soldiers sitting along side them. The waste fraud and abuse of government spending is rampant in the Contractors working for the Govenrment. Look at the D.O.D. spending of civilians salaries at our military bases and there no end to the waste of money. We need to stop all this government spending and our Fiscal Budget wouldn't exceed the necessary spending to keep our country operating and programs that suck the life out of it's citizens.
    Alabama (Roll Tide)

    August 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  102. Independent Joe


    Not in this economy or a good one should people get paid twice as much as what is paid in the real market.
    This is yet another gaffe by our federal government that leaves me scratching my head. Does this mean they will pay twice as much per doctor's visit? Twice as much for prescriptions?
    The federal government is out of touch.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  103. Dan Fahey

    No, fed workers shouldn't make twice that of the pvt sector. If anything it should be just the opposite. Fed, State, County and City gov't should get their economic house in order by cutting wages by 10% on more instead of cutting jobs. My wife works for the fed govt so I'm putting my money where my mouth is. When we've had tough times we cut back on our spending just like the govt should do. Govt raises should be based on merit just like our teachers should be measured. Is this too common sense for politicians to understand?
    Thanx, Dan Fahey Tucson, AZ

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  104. Sam


    I am a 25 year old federal worker who just found out I make as much money as my father who has been working for the same company for over 20 years. He works as hard, or harder in most cases, than any federal worker I have seen, and all without the benefits and job security. Does this seem right? Not in my eyes.

    Kansas City

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  105. Muhammad from Kalamazoo MI

    Well... It means we'll be adding to the number of underpaid overworked people in the labor force.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  106. Joe Basanda

    I can't imagine what a 100 billion $$ is? I believe in a fair wage for a fairs days work, which is much different than how the Govt defines FAIR. it seems their defination of FAIR is really GREED!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  107. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    All government workers, except the lowest paid, need a severe haircut. What makes them exempt from the pain everyone is feeling?

    There needs to be real oversight on pay and benefits, but of course the unions would never accept any oversight for any reason. This is just completely out of control, and needs to be stopped.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  108. Barrie

    Hi Jack I think the government workers are over paid and should take a pay cut for the good of the country.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  109. Larry

    What do we need them for? What services do we even get from the government? Do we need the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, the IRS, the Department of Transportation, the House of Bickering and Posing (Congress)? 90% of the Federal government is duplicated at the state or local level. I'll voluntarily pay for the FAA, NASA and the military. I don't think I'd miss anything else if it were gone tomorrow.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  110. Patrick from Manasquan NJ

    I worked briefly for the Federal government and was greatly impressed with the skill and dedication of the workforce. Try comparing federal employee compensation with the people who left federal service to lobby or become government contractors. Then you'll know why they are called "beltway bandits".

    August 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  111. anthony

    jack I think you got it all wrong the private companys are out to make a profit so they will not give there workers more money to do more we have unions who fight for us and we work just as hard as anyone else so get your facts right and and stop making false statements without checking you seem do do this all the time

    August 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  112. Mary Walker

    In regard to federal workers making up to twice of those in the private sector, I wonder how much this is connected to "four chiefs to every ten indians" that one sees in government organization. I wonder too, if the statistics would stay the same if the house and senate had to get the same adjustment in cost of living, etc, that the janitor or secretary would get each year. And in regard to federal jobs requiring more training, my goodness, does that include How to Do a Job While Dealing with Reams of Bureaucracy?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  113. Dan - Alabama

    It's not that Federal workers make twice what Private workers make. Private workers are way under paid and can't make a living on what private businesses are paying.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  114. Paul K.

    Few people cared how much Fed workers made when the Murrah Building was destroyed and as a result security increased dramatically. Think of the bullet proof glass separating the customer from the Social Security employee. My wife has a BS degree, 15 years with the IRS, and has moved several times to a city where her IT skills are needed leaving family and friends behind. She has been cursed, threatened and followed by neighbors to her "compound." I doubt anyone would give a positive comment on your blog.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  115. brenda robertson

    I've worked in the private sector for some 30 years and I think federal workers absolutely deserve this. Has anyone considered the fact that the private sector compensation is so weighted to the CEOs and those at the top that other employees get so little. Let's take the case of a 1000 employee company whose CEO's total compensation package is conservatively $20 million and divide half of this among those 1000 employees – that would would give them an additional $10k each. There's just not the same disparity of incomes from the top to the bottom in the federal sector, so let's be fair.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  116. Ray


    I recently returned from Iraq as a DOD contractor. The waste of money being spent on ridiculous salaries is beyond belief. A congressional hearing is in order. The fraud and waste by private contractors is something that is being overlooked. Go online and look-up what a Law Enforcement Professional working for MPRI makes? This waste needs investigated!

    Ray – VA

    August 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  117. kathy from phx

    No way Jack!! All of last year my husband took a 10% pay cut from Honeywell while most of the jobs were being outsourced to Mexico and India. Don't figure! Let them take a pay cut and help pay off the deficit and let them feel the pain that the rest of us feel along with our wonderful congress. They should do the same. Make them work for a living!!!

    August 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  118. jeane

    The worker's I've met have been hard workers Why pick on them. They did not cause the problem. Seem's the worker always is on the losing end of the stick.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  119. Andrew Lenze

    Absolutely Not, but do they really? Who did the analysis? Was the analysis biased? Did it make a fair analysis? For example, did it account for locality pay in high cost areas? I'd like to see CNN investigate the validity of the report. I am a government worker and I don't see this report as completely accurate.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  120. Brett

    Brett, from California.

    The Bush years saw the largest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history. Why punish the one group of workers who had the fight to keep their piece of the pie?

    August 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  121. sharon

    I don't know Jack, maybe Americans should ask the question why is the private sector so far behind.According to statistics corporate profits are up, executive bonuses seem pretty good to me and employee wages are down.Maybe the gov't can shame the private sector into doing right by their employees. It looks like they are more and more taking advantage of the high unemployment situation and not offering a fair wage, because they can.I guess the gov't is not as greedy.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  122. Scott

    For the responses that equate Federal compensations to CEO and any employee in the private sector is ridiculous. The Government has no competition so the tax payers can't choose a better competitor. Cut all Government compensation by 20% and cut the entire Government by 50%. Limited Government is coming because the people will rise against these Leaches that suck the blood of the Tax Payers.

    August 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm |