Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees?
January 31st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

At a time when the government should be making drastic spending cuts across the board, they might want to start with their own.

A new report out by the congressional budget office shows federal workers get much better benefits - including health insurance, retirement and vacation - than private sector workers.

On average, the federal government spends 48% more on benefits for its employees than private employers do.

As for salaries, federal workers make just 2% more than private sector workers.

But there's a big difference when you break it down by education.

For example, for federal workers with only a high school diploma, their benefits are 72% higher, and their wages are 21% higher than they would be in the private sector.

On the other hand, workers with doctorates or professional degrees are worse off working for the government. Their benefits are about the same and they earn 23% less than those in the private sector.

The CBO report suggests retirement benefits could be the key here. That's because most retired federal workers get pensions and subsidized health insurance. Not so for the private sector.

Overall, it's estimated that the government paid 16% more last year in salary and benefits than it would have for the same workforce in the private sector.

There are roughly 2.3 million federal civilian employees - less than 2% of the total U.S. workforce.

In 2010, Congress and President Obama agreed to a two-year federal pay freeze.

But the president now wants a 0.5% pay increase for federal workers in 2013. Hey, it's an election year.

Here’s my question to you: Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Chandler in Rockaway, New Jersey:
Jack, It's not a question of what they deserve. In the past, the deal with government service was that you didn't get paid as much as the private sector, but the benefits were comparatively generous. Private sector jobs used to come with pensions and subsidized retiree health care too. What has happened is not that government workers are so overcompensated, but wages and benefits in the private sector have been so beaten down that government jobs look good by comparison.

Good question Jack. Yes, lower-level federal employees are over-compensated. But lower-level private employees are also under-compensated. Higher-level federal employees are probably about perfectly compensated, but the higher-level private employees could do with a haircut.

Dave in Florida:
This is a trick question, right? Are we talking about the same bureaucrats that keep throwing red tape at you, keep you standing in line or on hold for hours, who treat you like livestock, who do in one month what the rest of us can do in an hour, who can’t understand that because you are out of work that you can’t give them a place of employment,? The people who can only get government work because they could never keep a real job in the real world?

Gord in New Jersey:
There's no easy answer to this one, Jack. If you want to hire federal securities examiners who can go toe-to-toe with Wall Street lawyers, you are not going to get the best people to work for teachers' salaries. At the same time, there are probably quite a few people in government holding do-little jobs with comfortable salaries.

Pete in Georgia:
This question is a joke, right?

Posted by
Filed under: Government
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. Pete from Georgia

    This question is a joke..............................right ???

    January 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Jk from Minnesota

    Congress DEFINITELY shouldn't have them after watching their POOR performance the past 2 decades. I think the federal employees should have some benefits to keep the large corporations honest and not try to create human sweat shops in the US like they have going in China, India, etc. The benefits just should get so outlandish – enough with the greed on all sides.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  3. Elizabeth From Toronto

    Need to be more specific. Federal workers that are risking their lives everyday i.e. FBI agents, CIA agents,Navy Seals, Army, Navy, Air Force, Tax Collectors these type of people in high risk jobs should have the best benefits. Folks who are at Employment Offices, Clerks at the White House, Licensing Offices etc. absolutely NOT!

    January 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  4. Dave - Phx

    It's not the federal workers fault that our corporation are making record profits in some cases and not handing out raises. I haven't had a decent raise now in almost 10 years. Had my company not pinched pennies and socked away billions over the last decade, I might be making the same as my counterpart in the federal govenernment. Let's quit blaming imaginary boogey men for every problem and place the blame where it should lay for this horrible economy. Squarely on the shoulders of the 1% CEO's.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  5. Karl in Silverton ID

    Congress makes alot more money, gets the best health care in this country, Retirement...but as soon as they
    leave office they turn into lobbyist.
    Are they not Federal workers???

    January 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Richard Texas

    Well I suppose that if your asking a Federal worker then the answer is going to be Yes!!. If you ask someone who pays the taxes for their employment your most likely going to get a definite No!!. I guess it all depends on where your standing Jack. Personally you could not pay me enough to work for the government and all it's bureaucratic BS.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  7. Jenna Roseville CA

    Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees?

    I believe that people should be paid fairly for the work that they do.

    The private sector pays more than the government and those that work for the government get a pension but NOT social security.

    What is this question really about Jack?

    Roseville CA

    January 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    I would like to here a federal worker explain why they believe they deserve more than the private sector?

    January 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  9. David in Tampa

    They deserve the same wage and benefits as everyone else Jack. Something that is a living wage and benefit package the rest of us tax payers can live with. Like when Congress can't get together a budget on time they should take a 50% retroactive cut in pay starting from the first day of the current Congress. That I can live with!!!

    January 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  10. Richard C.

    This disparity is just one more insult to the majority of U.S. workers since it is the non-federal workers who are paying for the disparity. Federal workers do not deserve a pay and benefit advantage especially since it is next to impossible to fire them for any reason, like incompetence or bad behavior. I recommend a two year pay freeze on all federal workers.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  11. joshua

    only for fire, police, militiary and national security. Those jobs that require life and death situations deserve higher pay and better benefits. No to all others including the president, congress, cabinet positions and supreme court should be at or below national averages for pay/benefits.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  12. John from Alabama

    Jack: Do members of Congress deserve more money than the private sector? The motto about pay is: "All for one all for me." If you do not like the pay structure do something about it. Don't ask questions.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  13. jimmy in greenville, north carolina

    Certainly they do, Jack! If you are one of the elite who land a federal job you make more than your subjects. Federal workers should be rewarded for either being the brother-in-law of the hiring manager or either being on the friends and family list. The federal workers must make more than us common folk. Who would we have to look up to. Getting on the federal payroll is like hitting the lottery! Let them have their rewards. I think it says somewhere that us poor workers will inherit the earth. So we got that going for us if we ever pay off the federal debt.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Brad, Portland, OR

    Lower level workers get more compensation from the federal government than they would in private industry, and higher level workers get less than they would in private industry.

    But because the job mix of those working for the federal government is shifted more towards high level jobs than the job mix in private industry, the federal workforce AS A WHOLE is underpaid. For example, 1000 physicists and 2 security guards as a group make less money working for the federal government, but the 2 security guards as individuals do better.

    In any case, I think people should be paid competitive wages whether they're high level or low level workers.

    And I don't think ANYBODY should get a pension, not federal workers, not members of the military, and not Congress.

    Almost nobody in private industry gets a pension; if they're lucky, they get a 401(k). Our employees shouldn't get better benefits than we do. They should get 401(k)s, too.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  15. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    Federal Workers have to deal with being bad mouthed by politicians for their entire careers while at the same time trying to do their very best jobs to protect tax payer interest. Federal workers have to be the butt of tax payer jokes because politicians, for political gain,, has convinced the public Federal employees are worthless. Federal employees typically have to master multiple disciplines such as legislation, engineering, legal, marketing, business process improvement. Federal employees have to flesh out and implement the laws passed by Congress. The same Laws that Congress blames the Federal employee bureaucracies for enforcing. Federal employees have to master interpretations and implementation of legislation, Federal Laws and regulations, and policies and procedures, notwithstanding the management of some of the country's, and in some cases the world's, most sensitive and innovative programs. Federal employees are the perennial target of terrorist attacks and put their lives on the line each and every day by serving in the military, space programs, foreign service officers, embassy operations, flight safety, food safety, medical safety and have their salaries regulated by an unappreciative Congress that preaches Capitalism and Free markets. Federal employees must be proficient in the operations and execution of duties performed in the executive, Legislative and judicial Branches of Government and be in a position to enforce and explain them to various industries, foreign governments, and U.S Tax payers. Yes they should be paid more but they are not. That is why members of Congress can come into office as a upper middle class wage earner work their way through the revolving door to Lobbyist and make millions as opposed to lowly Government salaries.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  16. Ann from Charleston SC

    If federal employees are anything like state employees, they absolutely do not deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees. State employees work the system by taking as many days off as they can, doing as little work as possible, and counting the days until they can retire and live off the state.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  17. David of Alexandria VA

    NO - they should recieve the pay, benefits and job security which their employer believes to be sufficient to attract, motivate and retain a workforce of adequate quality, skill, and performance to do the job. As a shareholder in this gargantuan federal enterprise, I don't think it should be any more than that or less than that.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  18. Doug Ericson

    I don't know, what do crooks get paid in the private sector? Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  19. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    As long as the private sector is not earning a living wage, yes. Hopefully OWS will end the union busting legislation of the last 25 years so everyone will rise to a living wage.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  20. Ron WPAFB

    The structure in Civil Service is out of date, Jack. It's kinda like paying Baseball Players millions and paying a School Teacher who will have a direct effect on your child's future, $30,000 a year!!!
    So it is in Civil Service. In Fact it is so broken, even if they don't work, you can't fire them. At leads that's what everyone believes, I hired and fired, do the paperwork, document, council and it's not hard.
    Both Civilian life and Civil Service is broken. Firefighters and EMT's don't get paid enough, Police too! But those Baseball platers, what do they do, play!!!! Jobs should be paid on an importance scale and based on experience and training and supervision and on and on.

    But before you complain about pay, Jack. If minimum wage is not connected to the inflation and pricing index, our economy will fail! Simple as that. Plus, no CEO should get paid over 5 Million a year ever!

    January 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  21. Jim Summerville SC

    The Federal goverment must stop spending more than it collects in taxes and can not continue to provide federal employees with higher salaries and better benefits than private sector employers. So the the answer to your question is NO!!!

    January 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  22. s in pensacola

    No, Jack. Private sector employees need to be paid as much federal and they both deserve more. I've never seen anything in our founding documents that said "We the corporate spreadsheet line items."

    January 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  23. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    The question is whether this is adjusted by length of day. In the non-government contracting part of the private sector, lots of people work 7 hour days nowadays, so the differential is even more for professional level personnel. Note that at the higher levels average pay is worse because in the private sector upper management takes more than what would be described as a reasonable share.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  24. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    Why not? Does a person who works for ABC Inc. deserve better benefits and salary than a person who does the same job for XYZ Inc?

    We have seem to have this attitude that anyone who makes more than I do is somehow overpaid and anyone who makes less than I do is lazy.

    When I was a young Marine serving in Korea in the early 50s I made a lot less than those in the private sector. The same when I was in the Air Force in Vietnam. When is someone going to make that up for me?

    January 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  25. Pete from Florida

    Of course not....but conservatives use this as a reason to reduce gov't workers' pay and benefits, while progressives say pay and beneits SHOULD improve as the economy grows, but the private sector hasn't kept up. It's no secret that private sector pay has been stagnant for a decade or more, while benefits have actually shrunk. Meanwhile CEO and Executives' pay, perks, and bennies have gone thru the roof. Don't punish gov't employees because the gov't treats them fairly; instead, push private sector employers to do more for their employees.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  26. Gordo from NJ

    There's no easy answer to this one Jack. If you want to hire federal securities examiners who can go toe-to-toe with gaggle of Wall Street lawyers, you are not going to get the best people to work for teachers' salaries. At the same time, there are probably quite a few people in government holding do-little jobs with comfortable salaries. Congress is not going to legislate efficiency, you need to give the Executive branch the flexibility to hire real talent and to sweep out the cobwebs.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  27. Mike S., New Orleans

    I retired from an executive federal position after 24 years, and I can assure you that my salary and benefits then, and my retirement now, is no where near that of my colleagues in the private sector. This same lame debate arises every time the federal govt. spends too much money. Don't blame the wage earners, blame the big spenders in D.C.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  28. Richard Oak Harbor, Wa

    The military is the new middle class. Federal workers should earn military pay and benefits.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  29. Sheila F

    The average salary is $174,000 a year for US Congressmen it means $14,500 per month, $3,625 per week or $725.00 per day! Now you and I both know that most of us don't even earn 725 a week and support a family on that. Many congressmen also have law practices, or rental property, or investments and also get their palms greased from speaking engagements and lobbyists. Most were also born into affluence so they may have inherited funds as well. Trickle this down to all federal employees, yes they could all very well survives with a salary decrease to help the federal deficit. Will it ever happen? ... Maybe if Ron Paul gets elected.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  30. Brian

    I'll be up front, I'm a federal worker. When people make comparisons between federal works and the average national wage they are not making a fair comparison. I am a professional electrical engineer, if you go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compare my wages and fully compensated earnings against similar private sector fully compensated earnings I make approximately 25% under their wages. In my organization of 80 people, 72 hold bachelors degrees, there are 48 masters degrees and 3 phd's. Make those fair comparisons of us against private sector professionals and you can see that the majority of professional federal employees are under compensated.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  31. Fred Colby; Menominee, MI

    I have to say no. It is unfair competition for workers needed by small business.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  32. chris

    nope many get to high of salaries and benefits liuke cars allowances insurance paid for cell phones in addition to enourmous salaries paid by the taxpayers it should be if you get paid by taxpayers you should get a decit salary and no benefits pay for your own dam stuff like we the overtaxed americans do

    January 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  33. Cy Gardner

    Let's ask this another way. Should the federal government lead the American workforce in a race to the bottom? The working people who hate unions often do so because they are envious of workers who bargain a decent wage and set workplace rules that protect them from management greed and incompetence. The country club conventional wisdom that rules the GOP goes that since China can chain people to workbenches and feed them cardboard we need to treat our workers like garbage to "compete". They never look at Germany where workers make more money, have better benefits and lower unemployment than America. It's always how low can we go. We need public and private unions to set benchmarks for wages and fair treatment in the workplace. Letting "the market" work its magic means that one day Americans will again be making shoes, but we won't be wearing any. cy from arlington, va

    January 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  34. Steve,NY

    Absolutely not. Most government workers are not accountable for anything. Most of them are civil service jobs or belong to a union. If they don't do a good job, it's nearly impossible to get rid of them. That's why they don't have any incentive to work hard.
    While working for a corporation with no unions, you have to produce. If you're an exempt person, you don't get paid for overtime. If you want to get ahead you better work extra hours, and even take your work home.
    Most government workers, not only they don't take work home with them, they only work 9:00 to 5:00.
    Government workers get the caddilac health plans, while the private ones get the mediocre ones. The worst part of this whole equation is that the private workers pay taxes (federal, state,& property) to support the government workers.
    If the government worker's pension investment drops, no problem just raise the taxes to fund the pension fund. If the private pension investments drop, that's too bad.
    We, the paying private tax majority (especially in NY, high property taxes) needs to revolt against the government workers and the unions. Enough is enough.
    Just think if everybody worked for the government, there would be little competition.
    That's what destroyed communism in the Soviet Union.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  35. lil magothy. annapolis, md

    No. And the least deserving of those are members of Congress. They're paid to do a job just like the rest of us and if they can't do the job, they should be canned, not given lifetime perks.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: When the economy was prosperous and the corporations were making tons of money----the Federal worker was not even on the radar screen. Now that times have changed, everyone is complaining about the Federal workers, their salaries and their benefits. What about the corporations in the private sector? Why do some corporations offer better salaries and benefits than others? I think that I should have been paid more, especially when I was in Vietnam. Society has a way of placing it priorities and values for all of us who work for them--you can please some of the people some of the time--–but you can't please all of the people all of the time.--The Federal workes gets paid for what he does----just like any other person--we get what we deserve, and even more, what we earn.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  37. Barbara Leavitt

    Why should they Jack? And even worse is the pensions coming out of our tax dollars for countless people. A one term stent brings a full pension at age 62, sooner if one works longer. There is a ponzi scheme for you. There should be term limits and these full pensions should be the same as any other job. None. Disgusting for the rest of America and all the Republicans can do is call those of us without government jobs "UN American".

    January 31, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  38. Kim , Dodge City, Ks

    That depends. If you consider military personnel as federal employees, then the answer would be yes. But for the most part, federal workers are gaming their own system as much as they can, and we pick up the tab. And the job security they have is unbeatable.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  39. Ed from California

    Hey Jack....It looks like the federal workers have a better negotiating team than you guys at CNN. Don't be jealous, organize with them. Their salaries and benefits are what they are because of labor and management negotiating in good faith bargaining. I say, good for them.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  40. Carla

    Not the federal workers I"ve come in contact with, Jack. I've actually called or visited Social Security with questions and wound up explaining regulations to them - and they reply with answers like "WOW! I never knew that!" It's come to the point that if I need answers on Social Security or Medicare, I do the best I can on the websites and then hope for the best - because the slackers they hire know very little about their areas of "expertise" and fail to share whatever knowledge they do have in a helpful way.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  41. Karl in Flint

    The only federal employees that don't deserve their salaries and benefits are the Congressional Mafia that conspired after 2001 to ship millions of private sector jobs overseas and put millions of Americans out of work so the cheaper items can be bout back here to sell to the millions of unemployed. Maybe if I was a Republican I would understand the rationale here. I doubt in 2001 when Bush took over, the disparity between public and private sector was so pronounced. I'd say leave the federal workers alone and bring back the private sector jobs and a good start is a $10 tariff on a Chinese made tooth brush and a $300 tariff on that $20 imported Walmart toy. The we would see how fast factories could be reopened and jobs really created.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  42. Matt

    Only if they do comparable work to those in the private sector. The salaries and benefits of government workers at any level need to be looked at. Of course if I had a government job I would be thinking differently.


    January 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  43. andy Lynn, MA

    Fer sure Jack. Putting up with John Q. Public, day after day, can be the most frustrating thing in the world. Additionally, having to monitor a contractor's performing work for the government and trying to determine if the contractor is performing to the specifications of the contract can be the most thankless job in the world. If I weren't so close to retiring believe me, I'd be long gone.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  44. Sylvia from San Diego

    NO, NO and NO..... Go visit any local DMV and you will see inefficiency and complacency at work!! For every private sector job, it takes two public sector employees to do the same job.....

    January 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm |

    tampa, fl as an employee, if i decide i want to give myself a raise, a perk, anything from the till, that is embezzlement, and i get arrested and go to jail. not politicians. no cuts either. i think all raises and perks should be on our ballots, and we, their employers should decide just how much they are worth. just voting to fire them doesn't work either.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  46. Bill of New Mexico

    For many years, I was persuaded by my teachers and agreed that federal workers were underpaid.

    After dealing with social security for a decade,

    and medicare for seven years–

    I realize that they are extremely overpaid.

    A month does not go by, without my having to call medicare about one of their mistakes that requires hours to straighten out.
    Medicare is worse than the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Perhaps, this lack of service is designed to save money for them.)

    Turn Ron Paul loose on all of these federal workers. Get rid of the state workers as well.

    Fire 'em and cut the salaries of the rest.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  47. Annie, Atlanta

    Actually 2013 is after the election. And your numbers seem skewered to fit rightwing talking points, and their attack on public workers in general. I take a look at police officers' and teachers' salaries here in GA, and what they do compared to what they make is almost laughable. How that compares to private sector jobs, I'm not sure, but those two professions are severely underpaid. GA is a right to work state, but I'm still skeptical of your numbers. It appears they can be reported to fit an agenda. They certainly don't compare with public workers here in GA.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  48. Peter, Tarrytown, N.Y.

    A better question should be "Do private sector employees deserve pay and benefits equal to federal employees".
    The more money you take out of wage earners pockets the less goes into growing the economy.
    The more wage earners have to pay for goods, and services(specifically healthcare) the less goes into growing the economy.
    High corporate profits do not grow the economy.
    Who spends the most money in our economy? Who buys the most products?
    When the average wage earner can no longer can afford to spend, what happens to the businesses that make those products?

    January 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  49. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    It's not a question of what they deserve. In the past, the deal with government service was that you didn't get paid as much as the private sector, but the benefits were comparatively generous. Private sector jobs used to come with pensions and subsidized retiree health care too. What has happened is not that government workers are so overcompensated, but that wages and benefits in the public sector has been so beaten down that government jobs look good by comparison.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  50. Frances

    It's not whether Government workers need to make less money..private workers need to make more money. They all should make a decent wage with benefits. Why would we want to bring down some workers because some rich dudes want to keep wages low, and make mega bucks for themselves. Tax the rich. Time for the greed to be over. There has been an income war, and the rich won.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  51. BILL, WI

    The pay and benifits you cite in that report are only averages. And that is the average by series and grade not taking into account COLA and locality pay adjustments. The authors erred when they averaged the pay of someone living in NYC to someone living in Sparta, WI and present it as a single pay schedule. If you really want to look at good pay and benifits look at the UAW and assembly line workers. In any case it the result of hard working unions and unionized workers.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  52. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    No I don't think they do deserve to be paid more. The Republican Party wants to tear away the rights of unions but all they have to do is look in her own backyard to see how federal workers are treated compared to the average civilian worker. These people have outrageous benefits along with pay that the average union worker would love to have. They get off every holiday known to man just like Congress. Come to think of it Congress is also a federal worker and they need to have their pay and benefits cut too.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  53. Jim Thomas

    None of them deserve what they are making now,let alone giving them more.They arenot good enough.I would not hire anybody coming from the government to work for me.They are lazy and not sharp enough to be employed anywhere else.Jim Thomas Phx.Az.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  54. Mike in Minneapolis

    My father was a foreign service diplomat with USAID for more than 20 years. He has a PhD in Economics. When he was working, he rarely put in fewer than 60 hours a week and never, ever had two days off in a row unless he was on home-leave, which was offered to officers working abroad. The cliche about DMV workers is not ubiquitous in all government workers. He could have used his mind on Wall Street to collapse the global economy and received tens of millions in bonus money for doing so, but he opted to try to fight poverty in developing nations. He earned his pension.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  55. RickFromDetroit

    One simple answer for this is: What effect does lower wages & benefits have on Consumer Spending.
    (1) Why is the government always giving tax cuts to stimulate the economy? Answer: Because low wages are the result of anemic consumer spending.
    (2) Lower wages also reduce tax revenues and increase the deficit.
    (3) Lower benefits result in higher entitlement costs for taxpayers.
    (4) Lower wages result in additional income for executives and shareholders.
    (5) Ridiculous wages are shown in fields like, professional sports where an athlete can earn as much as $20 million a year,
    when the average worker who earns $30,000 a year will only earn $1,500,000 for working for 50 years.
    (6) Congress earns $174,000 a year and the President earns $400,000 a year.
    (7) Many network Broadcasters earn 7 & 8 figure annual incomes.
    (8) CEO's earn as much as $100,000,000 a year, while many of the underpaid CEO's earn as little as $10,000,000 a year.

    Federal Workers are not "OVERPAID" but the majority of the workforce is "UNDERPAID" and CNN Reports that show
    49,000,000 Americans living below poverty, 97,000,000 Americans living a low income standard of living, 50,000,000 Americans without Health Care, and 45,000 Americans dying annual because they can not afford their medical bills sums it up. MOST OF THE COUNTRY IS UNDERPAID!
    Compare the $174,000 that Congress earns to the average worker. $174,000 / 365 = $477.00 a day.
    Compare the $400,000 that the President earns to the average worker. $400,000 / 365 = $7095.00 a day.
    Compare a $20,000,000 that an athlete earns to the average worker. $20,000,000 / 365 = $54,795 a day.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  56. Cy Gardner

    When are you going to ask if corporate media hacks who exist in their own privileged bubble should be replaced with actual puppets? The problem isn't that some workers make too much. The economy would be more robust if more people earned more money. The people who keep sucking money out of the economy aren't salaried workers. Federal workers spend most of their pay in the USA. Buying foreign oil sends the money away. Giving companies financial incentives to move their factories to China sends money out of the USA. Letting Wall Street loot the economy so that they can fill Cayman Island bank accounts sends money ot of the USA. THAT is where all the money is going. Quit whining and carping about people who do actual WORK for a living. cy from arlington va

    January 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  57. Chandler in Rockaway, NJ

    It's not a question of what they deserve. In the past, the deal with government service was that you didn't get paid as much as the private sector, but the benefits were comparatively generous. Private sector jobs used to come with pensions and subsidized retiree health care too. What has happened is not that government workers are so overcompensated, but that wages and benefits in the private sector has been so beaten down that government jobs look good by comparison.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  58. Jim, Denver CO

    Maybe not. But if we are going to cut salaries and benefits we need to start at the top first. Congress needs to be the first to cut out their sweet deals and packages. Lead by example, and then the rest of people will share in the sacrifice. "Everyone" in government needs to bite the bullet, not just a select few that Congress wants to impact.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  59. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Change is difficult but unless we wake up and start truly cutting then it won't matter if the federal people make more and have better benefits. No, they should not receive better benefits and pay but the word was for a long time that if you have a govenment job it's like winning the lottery called "Set For Life".

    January 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  60. Mike S., New Orleans

    Hey Jack, lets end this debate once and for all. Get rid of all the federal workers, replace them with workers from the private sector at lower salaries and less benefits, and watch how great the government runs then.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  61. Tony from Southport

    Seriously. That's your question. Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees? If you are a liberal Democrat and blindly approve of anything President Obama wants, then yes. If you are a taxpayer who is tired of watching your money go down the toilet, then no.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  62. LiberalNProud

    You have it backward;

    Don't private sector workers deserve better benfits and higher salaries?

    Lest you forget, a significant portion of those Federal workers are miltary, FBI, CIA, other intelligence operatives, the very ones you're depending to protect from enemies foreign and domestic. Be careful for what you ask.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  63. bud rupert

    In some cases yes. I think the "govies" have gotten so technology oriented that the job descripions call for very well educated skill specific personnel. That's especially true in the military and defense sectors. You see people with Masters Degrees and PhD's competing for mid and upper mid level positions. As an example I personally think that Contracting Officers deserve the kind of pay they receive-every bit. It's a tough demanding job. By the way-I'm not one I'm a contractor but I see the grind daily

    January 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  64. Tim N

    Good question Jack. Yes, lower-level federal employees are over-compensated. But lower-level private employees are also under-compensated. Higher level federal employees are probably about perfectly compensated, but the higher level private employees could do with a haircut. Imagine, a nation where all people made enough to live on but not so much as to drain each other of life.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  65. Dave, Orlando, FL

    This is a trick question, right? Are we talking about the same bureaucrats that keep throwing red tape at you, keep you standing in line or on hold for hours, who treat you like livestock, who do in one month what the rest of us can do in an hour, who can’t understand that because you are out of work that you can’t give them a place of employment, who can’t answer simple questions (like, “are you really that stupid or are you just pretending?”); the people who can only get government work because they could never keep a real job in the real world? Remember, it used to be the other way around until the federal government allowed the private sector to whittle away at benefits and earnings.

    Now, in case you’re a government worker and haven’t figured out what the answer is, it is NO!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  66. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    No, Jack, I don't believe that federal workers deserve better benefits. Just because they work for what is increasingly becoming the richest job-sector in the country. The very notion that you would ask this question is laughable. In fact, I'm laughing even as I answer.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  67. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Why is it we continue to act like spoiled children and wish to deny people something because we do not have it?

    Why don't we try to raise our living level instead of trying to bring others down?

    I'm not a federal employee but more power to them.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm |

    No they should not. Those are my tax dollars and I would much rather have them.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  69. Mitoosense Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Federal workers and Congress strangle the US Worker from world competition. Too many Cheifs..... not enough Indians

    January 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  70. Philippe Rousset

    Given that the bureaucracy is bloated to the point of choking the administration of government; I think that yes, Federal (like States and Minucipals) salaries and benefits are excessive.
    Trim the amount of push-pen by 28 % and adjust their pay to the average taxpayer TAKE HOME PAY. Government employees salaries should not be subjected to income tax since their pay comes from the government, accounting for it over and over again is another waste of money.
    If the government employees are not happy with that, I suppose they can get another job, or go occupy the dump.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  71. Ken from Pinon Hills, California

    It was government jobs and jobs by their contractors that elevated the private sectors benefits and higher salaries. A sixteen trillion dollar national debt says so.It appears the private sector now chooses to lower those salaries and benefits for their employees, and government will follow.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  72. George in PA

    Back in the day, it was thought that good pay and benefits were necessary to attract the best and the brightest to choose government service. Now when the private sector is shipping jobs overseas, it begs the question of how many government clerical jobs could be outsourced to India or Costa Rica?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  73. Gigi Oregon

    If we want a strong Government we need to hire people who can do the required work. My husband was and electrician in the private sector. His wages were above the government. So they raised his wage to come work for the government. The benefits were better. He is required continued education to keep up on his license. His work for the government was more demanding than the private sector and we feel in a job where peoples lives and safety are concerned he earned his wages, benefits and retirement. We believe in a strong government and a peace building government. You get what you pay for. The private sector (corporate America) wants to run risk and does not care about the health and welfare of its employees, also many times it's the almighty dollar in their pocket that counts. Almost all government workers are in the 99%. They only government workers that are over paid are our elected officails that have forgotten who put them their. And now we find our congress has been doing insider trading and go into lobbying as consultants for corporate America after they leave government.. How about a little debate on that.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  74. Jeff In Minnesota

    It all depends. If you are protecting my life or my family's lives, then you are probably not being paid enough, money or benefits. If you being paid to be a bureaucrat, then probably not so much. That said, a lot of federal workers are in the Washington DC area which is probably one of the more expensive places to live and therefore drives up employment costs. Maybe the government needs to outsource like the rest of America so they can get a true taste of what the rest of us have to deal with.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  75. Dave Laguna Niguel, CA

    Absolutely Jack, think of all the wealth the create for society, oh wait a minute they don't create wealth they live off the wealth created by others. Maybe we should all work for the government, then we can be successful like the Soviet Union, oh wait a minute they failed didn't they.Guess that answers you question.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  76. Nancy, Cunningham, TN

    Federal employees deserve higher wages and benefits as much as the entrepreneur who happens to invest in the right company and makes millions. You might say they invested in the right job search and it paid off

    January 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  77. Kevin Britt from Concord NC

    Sure why not? Has anybody told them there is a terrible 5 trillion dollar deficit? Guess not. What happend to all that fair shake stuff Obama was talking about? Just another bill for the middle class to pony up and pay for!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  78. Jack, Los Angeles

    Of course Federal employees have good benefits. I think instead of complaining, private sector needs to catch up in offering better benefits. Even in a slow economy Americans are over worked compared to their counterparts in the rest of the westernized world.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  79. Karl in Flint

    Two misconceptions that I see here that I doubt you will read and correct, but I'll say them, anyway.
    1. Federal workers are on Social Security just like everyone else, not the old pension system that ended in 1984.
    2. Federal employees pay income taxes just like the rest of us. It's not tax free income.
    A lot of people have warped ideas on these two subjects.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  80. Nell, South Carolina

    Don't knock the Federal salaries. RAISE the private salaries. Companies try to pay as little as possible and offer as few benefits as possible. We need to level the playing field between billionaires and the rest of us and that means higher salaries everywhere for the 99%.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  81. Cathy

    Jack, Jack, Jack, You do keep asking the same questions- the only reason why I know this is that when you asked the question last fall, I showed the responses to my sister who works for the government. You or your staff are becoming redundent with these questions- can you get some originality?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  82. David

    I think the better question is if private sector workers deserve worse pay and benefits. Let's not make this a race to the bottom.

    Ottawa, ON

    January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  83. Bob D Iowa

    Are you talking about the members of Congress that earn lifetime benefits and pension after 6 years of Do Nothing Work?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  84. Andy Z.

    They don't DESERVE it, but if they're not paid competitively, the government will attract sub-par employees. Our government is inefficient as it is, we don't need the bottom of the barrel working for us as well.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  85. Thane

    Jack, you have the question all wrong. The problem is that private workers are extremely underpaid and have had their pensions for a lifetime of work eradicated. What federal employees are getting now is the minimum that all workers, everywhere in the US, should be getting. This would be a much better economy if workers were getting a lot better paid. Cutting federal workers pay is a race to the bottom that only hurts the country further.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  86. Nel Gambino

    Is this proof that in the modern workforce the Government spoils it's employees or that the private sector abuses theirs?Why is modern America always about bringing someone down to someone else's lower level? Instead of lowering Federal Employee benefits why doesn't the Private sector increase theirs? I can remember when all employees got a pension..Public and Private.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  87. Joe Davenport

    Jack, that question shocked me. I retired from the U.S. Foreign Service (State Dept) in June 1986 after 20 years of service. In my entire career I was NEVER provided with Health Care. I had to buy my own at the tune of nearly 400 dollars a month. Where do you get this info from???

    January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  88. Edward

    Jack, yes the private sector needs to start taking better care of their employees, instead of all the money going to the top guys so they can give millions of dollars for attack ad's in campaigns – how bought giving some of that money to your employees, that actual do all the work that makes that money for you and the corporation!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  89. Nell, South Carolina

    RAISE the minimum wage. That will help the private workers - many of whom are working for less than a living wage because private companies can get away with ridiculously low salaries because of high unemployment. Private companies are about paying dividends to their stock holders. They don't care anything about the wellbeing of their employees.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  90. FERNIE

    Yes, and the private companies should match or even surpass the benefits a worker receive from working. The American worker is not a commodity or a piece of inventory.
    American workers deserve better wages and benefits than the ones offer today (if any) by private companies.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  91. BHines

    Federal workers do not deserve better benefits/higher salaries than private sector employees, but that does not mean that federal workers' benefits and salaries should be cut, it means that private sector employees should have better benefits and salaries. For example the US and Japan are the countries with by far the least no. of days of paid vacation per year in developed countries. So we don't have to cut the vacation of federal employees, but raise the minimum days of vacation mandated by law for private sector employees. That's just one example.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  92. Larry from MN

    How the tide has turned. People are forgetting that up until THE REAGAN YEARS, private sector workers were enjoying decent wage and salary packages. Then came the idea that those at the top need more to give more. He forgot one very important thing, greed. The faucet did not trickle, it was shut off. The govt. jobs are actually where the private sector jobs should be at. Now the private sector doesn't see where it all started.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  93. Nell, South Carolina

    Just because some employees are really getting the shaft is no reason to attack the wages of those who are actually in the middle class and contributing to our society.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  94. BHines

    Federal workers do not deserve better benefits/higher salaries than private sector employees, but that does not mean that federal workers' benefits and salaries should be cut, it means that private sector employees should have better benefits and salaries. For example the US and Japan are the countries with by far the least no. of days of paid vacation per year in developed countries. So we don't have to cut the vacation of federal employees, but raise the minimum days of vacation mandated by law for private sector employees. That's just one example. From Annapolis, MD

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  95. James Merchant

    Do we need to bring the Federal employees down to the level of the private sector? You're kidding me right? We need to bring the private sector up to the Federal employee level. If we all had those levels of pay and benefits people would be out spending more and would boost the economy. I'm a regional airline pilot which sector has been pretty stagnate over the last 4 years. I have been here 8 years with $100,000 in student loans and I have only once made more then $40,000 in a single year. We need to be raising the bar in this country not bringing it down when it comes to compensation and benefits for ALL employees.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  96. Tom Picciani

    More and more we ask why don't these or those people make less. If we want the economy to improve shouldn't we be finding reasons to pay people more? Pay people less and they spend less. The less people spend the fewer jobs get created. Let's just stop this type of banter. Stop putting people down for making good money. Congratulate them instead. They're the only people holding up this fragile economy!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  97. Mary L Andersen

    The benefit structure is what helps retain scientist needed in many agencies who are in demand by private sector who canay wages way Nobel Federal salaries whe Congress freezes salaries and work loads begone really heavy withou let up

    January 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  98. Trent in Washington, DC

    I made $85k three years ago as a lawyer in Corporate America. I made $40k last year working for the federal government, and I have $145k in student loans. This ain't the high life, Jack.

    The answer is not to deny wages and benefits to federal employees because people are frustrated with the economy or government. The answer is ALL AMERICANS DESERVE GOOD WAGES AND BENEFITS. Let's talk about that, Jack.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  99. Paul from Rockaway NJ

    No Jack, they don't. But they do deserve equal benefits and pay to their private sector counterparts. The labels of private worker, public worker have created yet more sub-groups that we can discriminate against and make a media circus out of. Good workers deserve fair pay and good benefits and bad workers deserve to be fired, no matter what industry they are part of.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  100. Darrell

    You know Jack our military members are federal workers and my question is can we ever pay them enough??

    January 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  101. Tim Fotinos

    As a rule they deserve the pay they have. If is a bit more than average, thats OK. Keep in mind federal workers do (and cannot) get stock options, million dollar bonuses, cannot fully participate in politics, and have legal restrictions on post federal employment.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  102. Jay

    You asked the wrong question Jack. The issue at hand is not that f\Federal workers are receiving increases in pay and benefits every year, which they are not. The issue is that private sector workers are seeing less pay and decreased benefits year to year. So the question should be – "Should Federal workers' pay and benefits be decrease at the same rate as private sector workers?"

    January 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  103. Nell, South Carolina

    It's Congress that is inefficient and over paid, not the guys who actually do the work.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  104. Scott

    Sure, if you're OK with Ponzi Schemes.
    We used to ridicule the Soviet Union for the same thing.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  105. john pavelchak

    I retired as a letter carrier with 33 1/2 years service, in 2011. After all deductions are taken out of my gross pay, and that includes medical benefits, which we do not get for free, my net for the month is $2000.00. And remember to tell the citizens we are civil service employees, and do not recieve Social Security benefits. Like myself, my fellow retirees for the most part all work to make ends meet.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  106. Dale N.M.

    I am a retired National Parks Service Park Ranger I worked my butt off serving the public, I saved one life by myself and helped in saving others, the hard-working in the field federal employee earns every dollar and benefit they receive.

    And now with the federal employee reduction which you have failed to mention, the office workers work load has tripled, they earn every dollar and benefit they receive now.

    You need to get your facts straight Jack, things have changed dramatically in federal employees.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  107. dan ayers

    Why should I have to pay higher taxes so that a government employee can have a set of benefits that I would need a second job to be able to afford for my family... It just makes me sick!!!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  108. Richard Oregon

    At-ta boy Dave. There is no logical reason that that they should make more than us regular people .

    January 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  109. Cal in CA

    Why should all the benefits only go to those federal employees who are elected or who hold posts filled by elected officials? The federal "workers" are the last bastion of the middle class. Meanwhile, no one is asking why Congress and judges enjoy the best pensions, the best pay and the best government provided healthcare on the planet. A lot of those idiots running for office say they want to take away all the federal workers benefits and yet they are vying for a position that guarantees their own.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  110. Mary in Des Moines

    You have the question backward. It's not whether Federal employees deserve more but why private employers are paying less. There are companies where CEO's earn millions but employees–and their children–are on Food Stamps and Medicaid. Why? Because they're paid so little they qualify. If you think dragging any working man or woman down will somehow help the economy, I have to say I do not. Private employers need to stop lining their own pockets and they can start by paying working men and women a decent wage and benefits.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  111. Davis Jones

    This is yet another leading question to incite populist responses for Mr. Cafferty. Not all Federal workers are the same, just like all private sector workers aren't. Lumping together millions of workers into two, disparate groups for the sake of comparison is pointless, not to mention a way to further divide groups. The Federal Government needs pensions and retirement health care to retain employees and talent - plain and simple. Take them away, and retention is going to be a huge issue. It's security vs. earning power. I know many Federal employees who could earn significantly more (1-2X) in the private sector but don't for a variety of reasons.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  112. Paula

    I'm SICK AND TIRED of the general public picking on federal workers. They act like everyone who works for the government is on the Forbes 500 list. After having spent 20+ years in the private sector, and now working for the federal government, I can honestly say that people who were performing the same kind of work in the private sector make much more than those in the government. (And, the private sector also has their share of lazy, do-nothings). Cripes, we can't even get decent office supplies where I work; it just about took an act of Congress to get a box of rubber bands. And, I would LOVE to know where the "average $74,000 federal salary" was pulled out of. Apparently, somebody's butt crack. People should get their facts straight before criticizing federal workers.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  113. D Hillman

    Withregards to lack of college education, many of these federal employees are veterans whom have not optianed a college degree after leaving the service. Many of these federal agencies acknowledge the military experience over college degrees and therefore, many federal employees have no degree. As for benefits, look at the Disabled Veterans Tax, called "Concurrent Receipt", taxing ONLY disabled veterans upto $3000 a month (their entire military retirement) just for becoming too disabled prior to serving 20 years of active service.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  114. -hh

    I'd be more than happy to have Federal employees have 100% pay equity with the Private Sector. However, let's make sure that this is done with equity, which means that for all those years where Federal Pay lagged behind Industry by 20% or more, that the compensation that they're retroactively due ... is paid (with interest).


    January 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  115. Cynthia Dudley

    The question is why aren't the private sector workers getting what the federal workers have long proven is a living wage and a reasonable income for work done? We really are failing the working class for falling for the belief that we deserve less than the best if we produce the best. If an individual worker is sliding then that is the problem of the individual and not a reason to short everyone. Once upon a time a boss made a reasonable multiple of his front line workers and the share holders got a dividend from profits. Now the upper management squeezes the front line worker and shorts the share holder and the media sells that as good business because some greed heads hold expense parties for them.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  116. Eric

    I'm gad that a distinction has been made between a low level file clerk (probably a GS7) and a division chief or a very specialized set of skills. Everyone should be getting paid for their performance level or skill level. One of the major problems is that people with a high level very technical skill sets cant find a job that will pay what its worth to do. Would you want a person with a doctorate in counter terrorism and 20 years of experience working for the government or working for a privet company thats just out to make a profit? Most of the people I know that fit that bill cant work for the government even if they want to because of the hit that they would take in pay.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  117. Charles - San Antonio

    No. A goverment job offers better benefits and, most importantly, offers very stable employment. If you work for a private company and don't pull your weight, you get fired – fast. If you work for the goverment and don't pull your weight, you get transfered, past over for promotions, a bad evaluation, or put on some type of improvement plan. Goverment employees never get fired, they retire when they are young. That's what the goverment calls taking steps to reduce the workforce.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  118. Tom from NJ

    There are plusses and minuses to federal employment. For many covered under the old CSRS retirement system, the retirement system is not portable. They do not receive social security. CSRS retirement costs more than social security as well. Now, as many under that system approach retirement, tea baggers want to pay for temporary cuts to social security revenue by increasing CSRS costs and decreasing the payments under a system people have paid into for many years. Is there class warfare in this country? Hell yes and the class everyone wants to ake the whipping boys are those who provide valuable service to this country. (Remember, most government employees are not the ideology driven morons put in place by the politicians!)

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  119. Maureen

    Federal employees frequently have jobs that do not have an equivalent in the private sector and private corporations would charge more to do the job. Federal employees do not have the right to bargain about pay or benefits and do not receive some of the "perks"people in private industry receive. My neighbors were surprised to find out that my husband and I pay for our own vehicles (many of them have employer provided vehicles or leases) and pay several times what they do for our health insurance. Federal employes are also prohibited from taking gifts from those they do business with-which included in my agency not being allowed to receive a free lunch buffet at a senior center when I was the speaker! I think no CEO should be paid more than the president and no lawyer should receive more than the chief justice of the supreme court..

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  120. DaleW in MA

    No, they have government mandated job security that the rest of us don't have. Chapter 11s and outsourcing don't apply to federal workers like they do to the rest of us.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  121. Charles D. Hayes

    Of course not Jack. I think you should keep whining about it until every last person in America has a low paying job. That way we can compete with China.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  122. Ken - Kingsport, TN

    When one works for someone else, this means that one is compensated at the rate this public or private company sets for this particular worker. Asking what is fair in the workplace as far as salary and benefits is ludicrous, Jack. There are far too many variable in play to even try to compare public versus private employment, but asking questions like this is what leads to people getting killed. Life isn't fair. It is a shame that our governemnt leadership has destroyed this country for greed and this is why you are asking questions like this. The entire system is going to implode in the next few years and we need to hope that some wise men step forward to rebuild whatever is left..

    January 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  123. Sandra

    Accomplished Federal workers with advanced degrees and critical positions (ie; FBI Agents, ICE Agents, DEA Agents, CIA officers and professional staff) deserve these benefits and more! Federal workers with low job requirements do not! The greater percentage disparity is in the lower paying jobs. Have you seen what it takes to be an FBI Agent?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  124. Marie

    Jack, you've got the question backward. The real issue is why has the private sector lost benefits and salary compared to government workers doing similar work. Marie

    January 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  125. Gary H. Boyd

    Obviously federal workers think so Jack. Just look at the members of Congress. Their pay and benefits, even after leaving office, are so much beyond individuals in the private sector it's become an embarrassment even to them.
    And the interesting thing is ordinary citizens can't do a damn thing about it.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    January 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  126. Warren Edwards

    Usually your questions are well thought and good fodder for debate, but today you should be ashamed of yourself. First off, if the numbers you used included the military as part of the 'government workers' then your numbers are deeply flawed; of course the government workers benefits for high school grads only is going to be way higher, who do you think is fighting on our front lines. Now contrast that to a high school grad in the private sector, how great are the benefits of those jobs. Don't compare the pay or benefits of those who put on a uniform, pick up a weapon, and defend this country to those of any other citizens, it isn't fair to any party in the comparison. Now, if you do as you should and are considering only non-military (should only be active duty as well, but I won;t nit-pick) government employees vs their private sector counterparts then okay. But, still why does it matter, why are we making this useless comparison, you said yourself government employees are tiny in comparison to the private sector. If I, a regular citizen am looking for employment it doesn't matter. No 2 jobs have the same exact benefits anyway. And if you feel government employees get too much or then, what should they get and who should say so.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  127. Henry in Maryland

    You are asking the wrong question, Jack. The real question should be "why has the private sector allowed employee pay and benefits to deteriorate over the last 20-plus years when executive pay and benefits have skyrocketed during this period?" The fact that Federal employee pay and benefits appear so much better than the private sector says more about how private firms mistreat their workers than how "well" Federal employees are treated. A am a retired Federal employee. When I married my late wife 33 years ago, one of the many fringe benefits was getting under her private firm's health insurance. Her benefits were far superior to mine. By the mid-1990s her firm's benefits went down the toilet. Although the Federal health plan's cost increased and the benefits diminished, my health plan was suddenly many times better than her's, and we switched. Regarding pay, as a senior lawyer working for Uncle Sam, I never expected to make anything like the pay of a partner of big law firm, but realizing my monthly salary was about 60 percent of what those firms paid their summer interns really hurt.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  128. Charles

    You're missing the point. Private sector workers should have the same benefits as federal workers. All workers deserve benefits!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  129. Ted

    Of course they do not ... they should get less benefits and lower salaries and their jobs should be outsourced whenever possible and the top federal employees should get fat bonuses for eliminating jobs and services and for keeping compensation at the lowest possible levels. Why shouldn't the federal government join Wall street in the systematic destruction of American.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  130. Adam in Indiana

    The short answer is no, but why would we blame the government for treating their employees well? There are a lot of common everyday citizens who enjoy working for the government, because they are taken care of, the way I believe humans, in general, deserve. Who could blame those employees for enjoying the healthcare, pay, and job security that comes with many government positions?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  131. Matt

    Most of the folks who take the govenment jobs are separated military members. when will the attaccks on our military and govenment services stop? there have been senators saying that military retirements should decrease (Their's will not), freezes on hiring for federal positions. where most separating military members transition to, Loss of benefits and more. and now this??? I guess the press and politicians want all military folks who leave the military to go into the private sector where companies have incentives to hire vets eh? OK, I'll go for it.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  132. Gi

    Stop making federal workers (not including Congress) the scapegoats here. When the housing market and internet companies were booming no one was concerned the federal pay was too low and many folks laughed at federal workers and vowed they would never work for the government...my how the tables have turned! Don't now blame the gvt workers that have spent many years finally working their way up to a salary most folks laughed about a few years ago.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  133. Larry in Houston

    Had to read your article twice to figure out what exactly you were talking about Jack >sorry< lol – In other words, you could have made your point in a couple of sentences, instead of several paragraphs. Please don't take that the wrong way.
    Now, to your Question : Do federal workers deserve better benefits and higher salaries than private sector employees?

    The short answer is : NO – – but obama wants to give the federal employees / workers a 0.5% – Yep, that's right, He wants to do that because of any vote he can get – but what about the rest of those people out there, Jack ? I mean, I'm already drawing a pension from where I used to work – 28 yrs. (from back East) – I've paid my dues, Jack – I only have 5 more yrs. before I start drawing S.S. that I paid into, all those yrs. So, in essence, it doesn't matter to me , what obama wants to do, regarding giving the people who work for the Federal Gov't a raise. But, In this economy, and all the people that is out of work, I think obama is going to "pander" to whomever so he can get their vote. I'm still Voting for a Democrat, Jack -not so much for Obama, But I'm Voting Democrat. I've never voted for a republican in my whole life, Jack. Just can't seem to ever do it. My vote is for the working people in this country, you know, people who has to clock their time cards / card key / keep track of their TIME, every week, or every day, whether it's hours, days, or weeks, Jack.

    Larry in Houston

    January 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  134. Randy

    No, ALL workers should have the same pay and benefits as the C.E.O.. What happened? Didn't like the answers you got from the taxing the rich question from yesterday?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  135. Paul, from Flushing, NY

    Jack, why is it that we are loathe to go after the CEOs and the millionaires, and yet many are ready to come to arms against federal employees? Federal employees are under constant scrutiny, accountable not only to their bosses but also the American people on a daily basis. My mother was a federal worker for most of her adult life in this country, and that was through hard work and applying through the civil service exam. We were never rich or well-off, but she earned just enough to provide me with roof over my head, food on the table, and health insurance for my family. If some are eager to point out "class-warfare" on the upper-income households, they should take another look, as they are probably the same ones that are declaring war on our working middle-class.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  136. Alan Nakashima

    Do federal workers deserve higher salaries and better benefits than their private sector counterparts? ABSOLUTELY NOT! My first job out of college was as a GS7 Engineer. It had wonderful benefits, a great pension but a very low salary. The compensation was wonderful job security. My counterparts in private industry regularly got laid off because of contract losses or a downturn in the economy. The total package (salary, benefits, pension, job security) should be about the same. Government salaries are a TAX on the private sector. We can't be competitive in the world with such high taxes.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  137. Fred in Seattle, Washington

    Are government workers somehow "better" or more deserving of higher wages than everyone else?
    Of course not!!!
    But is the problem that government pays too much to its workers, or that private sector employers pay too little? This is not necessarily a question of government waste.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  138. William J Goldsbury

    Are you kidding Jack? It isn't because the feds pay more. It is because the private sector doesn't pay anywhere it used too. Same with city and state workers. I'm retired from the NYPD. When I joined the force 30 years ago. I took a big pay cut lost some of my benefits. That was when the private sector used to offered a living salary, pensions, great health benefits, vactions etc. Now what do you have? Only the top 5% of the corporate management gets that now. Now their pointing the finger at the govenment workers. Saying you can't do that. Get real Jack.

    Years these people been saying it's a world economy really? Wasn't it over 3000 years ago the ancient phoenicians started this so-called world economy? But we do have one thing back we thought was gone. Slavery or haven't you looked at China lately? Seems like this country's corps have been heading back to that idea for some time now...

    January 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  139. Christine

    I think the problem is that salaries for government employees whose work is essential to our country's security and economy need be kept competitive so they do not lose those workers to the private sector (mainly PhD's not specializing in Public Sector areas (i.e. economics or science) or Defense personnel). However, those who are not in those positions should earn wages comparable to private sector. I think the wage and employment flexibility in the private sector should be mirrored in the government for most positions. I think a more competitive environment in the government sector is desperately needed, especially facing a high government deficit and impending budget cuts.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  140. Michelle in Tampa

    Seems to me the REAL story is that wages & benefits in the private sector took a huge dump in the last 25 years.
    So now federal, state & municipal wages now seem "too high" in comparison.
    Note that the largest disparity is in jobs not requiring a higher education degree – the type of work that has been outsourced or made "obsolete" by technology. But more skilled work & "knowledge-based" positions are being outsourced (for lower wages, fewer benefits, & higher corporate profits.) And more professional work is becoming a casualty of technology. Think about your own job... your own industry... and you will probably agree that NOBODY in America is safe, as many are finding out.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  141. Joe Ft Walton Bch Fl

    Federal workers yes with the exception of the FBI, CIA and the IRS.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  142. Jerry in Alaska

    OH Jack! You know that they deserve better than all the rest, their the GOVT. and its ok because we pay for their insurance, even though many can't pay for our own.
    So how does this work Jack, the Govt. wants to force us all to have insurance even if we can't afford it, and the Govt. is gonna fine all those that don't comply, whats a nonGovt. person to do?

    I know vote out that new hope & change thingy thats totally destroying America, that is if we even have a chance to do so after the Chosen One starts WWIII in the Middle East any day now.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  143. john pavelchak

    employees for the postal service who were hired pre 1984 are fully civil servants, employees after 1984 do pay Soc. Sec. (FERS) and a small amount into Civil Service. they however must work a lot longer, there is no 30 years of service and 55 years of age requirements. I am from the northeast, under the new FERS (after 1984) try working out in the elements for 40 years or more, because if you started your career at 21, you need to work at least that long and more often longer to get to Soc. Sec. age. How about changing Congress and their one term retirement benfits for life JOKE!

    January 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  144. rex in portland, oregon

    A contract is a contract, but in the interest of public frugality the contract should be rewritten to made government jobs equal to private sector jobs in terms of benefits. Or perhaps the public sector could raise . . . . nah, that won't work.

    My bigger complaint is the difference in deductions taken by those of high income compared with those of lower income. I eat, you eat. I get to work, you get to work. I pay for housing, including mortgage interest. So do you. I donate to charity. So do you (or Mitt or Gates or Buffett or Joe Schmoe, get it?). You think of some way to make these deductions equal and you can save billions of dollars in taxes - might even reduce the burden of taxes on us poor folk. Some flat standard deduction for all???? Seems like our needs are the same, and everything else is 'discretionary'.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  145. Sabrina, from WA

    The question is wrongly stated. It should be "Do the private sector employees deserve as good benefits as the federal employees", and the answer is YES. The private companies and corporations exploit their workers, providing less and less benefits, forcing the employees work overtime with no additional pay – and it gets worse.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  146. Slade Watson

    Jack, what we should be deeking is to raise all workers in America to the best salaries, benefits, and retirement possible, not trying to pit one group of people against others with jealousy, envy, and hate as one political party is trying to do. As Dr. martin Luther King and others before him said, "A rising tide raises all boats." Also, I doubt the validity of the study, as millions or workers in America now have absolutly no benefits at all in minimum or less than $12.00/hour jobs. many of those have been reduced to lesser wages by the recession.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  147. M Murray

    The federal workforce is held to a higher standard than those in the private sector and only recently are they compensated. Many of the fed's are required to carry a security clearance. Screw up once and your career is done, if you can even pass the background investigation. That does not apply in the private sector. The only limit in the american private sector comes from the folks that choose not to take advantage of the land of opportunity.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  148. Cee.Louisiana

    I dont like this question.....need to know more......

    January 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  149. Kate

    Yes, the private sector has done away with pension plans along with most benefits, add to that a steady decline in wages and the result has been people can no longer retire. What's so great about that?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  150. laura

    Gosh Jack, thanks for letting me know that my husband , a federal employee, and i are now in the rich elite. I wish someone would explain then why I have to work a part time minimum wage job just so we can make ends meet.

    Thanks also to all those who had one bad DMV or office visit and therefore think all government employees must therefore be lazy bums. It's funny how most government agencies like social security, our interstate highway system, our parks systems, many other sections have run steadily, without a hitch, for many decades and yet, the federal employees who make sure these offices run smoothly are called lazy and should be paid a non living wage?

    Here's an idea-why don't we run our federal offices with non skilled minimum wage labor with no benefits-seems like that is now the American way.
    Civil service is a matter of pride for many American who work in the federal system. By the way folks-20% of federal employees are VETS! Real patriotic folks.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  151. Rita Bowles

    You are asking the wrong question. You should be asking if the government should continue setting a positive example to private enterprise by providing improved healthcare and retirement benefits to its employees.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  152. Ron in Rochester NY

    It's a tough question Jack, I suppose you have to ask yourself another question first.

    Has the corporate culture in the U.S. continued to keep the best interest of their workforce in mind when they look at how they develop their business model?

    If you think they have. then the Federal Government is probably overcompensating their employees.

    If you believe they haven't, (I would fall in this category.) then the comparisons being made between the two sectors aren't really fair and we need to have a conversation in this country about how to address this.

    We need to get back to looking at our country as a single community. All this stuff about the 1% or the 99% or this group or that is nonsense. Our corporations need to be run with long term vision for not just themselves, but the community as a whole and the role the corporations play in it. Without a vibrant and engaged middle class, there isn't anyone to buy the goods that drive our economic engine. Our corporations need to have a reality check, their focus on the bottom line is killing off any chance we have for any sustained growth going forward, or long term economic stability. It is also killing off their own long term viability, ask the folks at Eastman Kodak.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  153. Sondi

    The question should not be "do Federal workers deserve better benefits?", but instead should be "shouldn't we all be getting the same benefits as Federal employees?" For decades, the US has maintained a strong middle class because of good pay and good benefits. As private sector companies minimize these benefits and pay, the middle class is slowly disappearing. We should ALL get higher pay and benefits, just as the Federal employees do. Maybe then our middle class will stabilize and begin to grow again.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  154. DebinFlorida

    Here's a thought, why are we complaining about Gov't workers getting benefits and a pension? Instead we should be asking why businesses are not giving good benefits and a pension to their workers. The regular gov't workers have to work long hours, solve problems and put in at least 20 years, have a college education and some good jobs require a Masters degree. It is not a free ride.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  155. corie

    Be more specific what branch of the federal govt. and what private sector we are talking. They should earn the same if they are doing the same kind of job. iTS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE FEDERAL EMPLOYEE THEY SHOULD EARN LESS. The Pres is earning less than those CEO's and he is running the entire country.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  156. Dan Louisville, KY

    "Federal Worker" is too broad to mean anything. Are you talking about bureaucratic slugs who move one pile of paper per day from box A to box B? Or are you talking about FBI field agents, border security guards, CIA people in all sorts of places: how about Federal prosecutors trying to convict drug cartels; how about air traffic controllers that work under great stress knowing thousands of lives depend on them every minute of the work day.

    I can't defend all federal positions, but it is narrow-minded to dump on all federal workers. Anyone in the private sector is eligible to apply for whatever job they think they are qualified.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  157. Sabrina, from WA

    I have a MS degree in Science and 5 years experience, and my wage is $19/hr with minimum benefits working for a huge corporation. If this is OK, then I am doing better than federal employees with an advanced degrees. However, I can't find other jobs in the area, which would pay more or provide more benefits. Now, tell me, Jack, should we cut federal employees benefits, or should we keep corporations up to the federal agencies standards?

    January 31, 2012 at 4:58 pm |