Skip to comments.Morning Bell: Should We Pay Government Employees More?
Posted on 11/21/2012 7:43:35 AM PST by IbJensen
Federal employeeswho work on average a month less than private-sector workers and get paid moreare lobbying for higher pay.
Government unions know that Congress is looking for ways to nip and tuck the federal budget, and theyre counting on being left out of the deal.
The Federal-Postal Coalitiona group representing more than two dozen federal employee unionspleaded with Congress on Monday to spare their members in any deal related to the fiscal cliff, Government Executive reports.
Government unions went all out to re-elect the Presidentthe Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spent more than any other outside group on Obamas campaign. While only about seven out of 100 private-sector workers are unionized, in government, that number rises to 36 out of 100.
Now theyre complaining that they dont get paid enough.
Federal employees and Members of Congress are working under a two-year pay freeze, though individual employees still remain eligible for raises if they receive promotions, step increases or performance awards, explains Government Executive.
Of course, these are employees who are paid by the taxpayers. So their compensation deserves every measure of scrutiny. Unfortunately, faulty comparisons to the private sector have been muddying the waterssomething Heritages Jason Richwine and the American Enterprise Institutes Andrew G. Biggs have been working to correct.
When Richwine and Biggs wrote in The Washington Post November 18 that government unions were using bogus numbers to push for raises, a firestorm of reader comments erupted. As of this morning, there were 2,480 comments on the piece.
One of the main issues: The Federal Salary Council, an advisory body of academics and leaders of public employee unions, suggested last month that federal workers are underpaid by an average of 35 percent relative to nonfederal employees.
Whats behind the huge gap the council is claiming? For starters, a huge omission: benefits packages. Richwine and Biggs note:
First, the pay agent doesnt consider fringe benefits, even though benefits for federal workers are famously generous. In addition to a 401(k)-type pension with a handsome employer match, federal workers receive a traditional defined-benefit pensionfor which they contribute less than 1 percent of salaryas well as retiree health coverage. A Congressional Budget Office study published in January found that the federal retirement package was 2.7 times more generous than what is paid by large private-sector firms. Federal workers also receive more paid vacation and sick days.
According to their own reporting, government employees work fewer hours than private-sector employees. To measure this in the fairest way possible, the American Time Use Survey allows workers to record all of their time, including any hours spent working from home or outside normal business hours. Using this data, Richwine found that government employees worked about one month less per year than private-sector workers.
And not only do they work less, they get paid more.
A January 2012 report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that federal government employees receive substantially higher compensation than similarly skilled workers in the private sector. The reports methodology and conclusions were broadly similar to previous studies from both The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Richwine, Biggs, and Heritages James Sherk concluded:
Federal compensation should be scaled back and reallocated to reward the most productive federal workers. The government should replace the seniority system with performance pay, paying higher salaries to good workers without guaranteeing raises for mediocre performers.
Government unions worked hard to re-elect President Obama, and now theyre expecting a payout at the expense of taxpayers. Any suggestion that their pay is below market levels is completely false.
Reduce the number of federal employees in all departments by not less than one-third. This year. Next year, another one-third. Reduce the salaries of all government employees, including the President and Congress, to the average for the American workers. We should want it fair and balanced since that is the cry the Democrats use repeatedly. Let's force the central socialist government to follow their lead . . .
We now have a government that's easy to hate!
As a federal employee ... I know that is BS. I am an engineer who worked for a defense contractor for 20 years before moving to the government.
I make less now, but nowhere near 35% less ...
Are you at work now?
I’m an over 70 retiree and at home on my own time.
The federal retirement from 1984 forward sucks! I don’t know why people think it is so great. Federal Government is working tomorrow ALL Day. Most private businesses are off. Most private businesses are giving great Christmas Parties and bonus’. Not the federal government.
Federal ... not in my field.
You might think differently if you take a hard look at retirement plans in the private sector.
My Grandfather retired from Coca Cola and now that is a retirement program.....Oh and it is not a government program or company.
Do you work for the central socialist government?
Who is working on Thanksgiving Day besides cops?
As a government employee, I can tell you that people don’t work here for the money. They work for the benefits. The biggest benefit is the reluctance of the government to get rid of you after 50.
Also people want more government workers. They want more people working in the DMV and Social Security and Medicare and etc etc. They just want them to work for free. Or get their dead azz off STD/LTD and go back to work.
That’s annoying, because after all we all have to pay for Coca Cola pensions.
Ah no wait, we don’t. Coca Cola is a private company that doesn’t get to take money from taxpayers by force of arms.
Whereas we all have to pay for bloated Government pensions. Also: Government pensions are not subject to market forces and can grow without let or hindrance.
Two excellent reasons why all Government pensions (indeed: all conciliary to Government workers) must be subjected to dispassionate scrutiny.
What world do you live in where “most private businesses are giving great Christmas Parties and bonus’????? Surely you jest.
Where the usual inane comments of that nature on FR come from ... the DC bubble.
I understand that. But times have changed and Coca-Cola isn't exactly an average employer. Outside of companies like Coke or unionized jobs like the UAW there is usually a great difference between government retirement and private sector retirement.
Talk to a cross section of people working in the private sector today and compare their retirement plans (if any) to government plans.
Not only that, but government employees have almost 100% certainty that the government retirement plan will be there when they are ready to retire. Many private sector plans go belly up before employees are able to retire. Sometimes even people already retired lose their retirement when plans go bankrupt.
It's a whole different world when you work outside the government in 2012.
I worked for private sector for 25 years before my company outsourced my job in 2002.
I do the same job now, for the Feds. It is, however, much more complex due to regulations.
I just now, this year, passed by 2002 salary. The benefits are non-existant, and I get 10 holidays and 4 weeks vacation, which I earn.
In my other job, I had earned 5 weeks vaca and was closing in on 6. We had 14 Holidays. I also had my yearly planner purchased for me, my home internet was paid for by the company for when I needed to work from home, and no one made a huge fuss if we had training conferences.
I’m not the one complaining...I feel like I’m serving my country. The other yahoo’s on here sound like the evious occuturds.
I am thankful for my job and I am honored to serve my country, but it’s not the pot of gold some of you think it is.
This salary stuff is the wrong, and to be blunt stupid, discussion to be having
What we should be talking about are things like getting the Gvt to move away from the GS scale (with it’s automatic step increases) and into a pay for performance structure. And eliminating waste from unneeded, redundant positions. Then loosening up the laws that prevent poorly performing Federal workers from being easily fired. And finally reforming the hiring process so that the best qualified candidates get the jobs.
Arguing about salary is nothing more than a distraction. Especially since the salary numbers are dwarfed by the inefficiencies caused by not addressing the points above.
The VA nurses and doctors are working. The military is working. The flight controllers are working. Firemen are working. I’m sure there are others...
But, of course, the 855 White Hut employees, the lousy State Department and a score of others are not only not working tomorrow, but do very little of substance during the year.
The government does much more R&D too ... we are on the cutting edge of technology development ... and for that we are willing to get paid a little less.
I work for a school district and have met more women who work there just for the medical benefits. Their husbands are all self employed.
I'm off because I'm a TEACHER.
Most businesses no longer have parties or bonuses, not even when I had a real job like programming for Oracle and not this crap ass teaching that I now have to do.
You, sir, do not seem to be living in the same country that I do.
Hope that doesn't burst your little poor-me bubble.
Hell yes! keep cutting their salaries until they are like the rest of us.
The Federal government cannot give Christmas parties or bonuses. That would violate the separation of church and state. Are all the atheists employed by the Federal government opposing bonuses and parties?
Oh, puleeeeese! I don’t think I can take “If I worked for a private company, I’d make so much more” kind of stuff anymore. As I always say to these “public servants”...Do it...do it...do it! None ever have.
My Father once told me that the only job you can complain about is the one you took because you had a gun to your head.
What was the line from the Godfather? Either your signature or your brains will be on that contract.
If anyone doesn’t like their Job, they can quit and find another one without retribution.
The VA is on the forefront of Spinal Cord injury research.
My great christmas party was 35 years ago, when was yours?
I have your back on this one. Are there some government positions that are overpaid/over manned, hell yes. But that is not the norm. Most of us make pretty close to what our non-government counterparts make.
Thank you! There isn't exactly a high demand for surly, morbidly obese DMV "workers" out there in the private sector.
“You might think differently if you take a hard look at retirement plans in the private sector.”
I doubt that. A federal civilian employee only gets an annuity of 1% for every year of employment. Currently, it is based upon your high three years of salary.
So, a federal employee that works for 40 years that makes 70K a year at retirement would get an annuity of 40% of their salary during the time highest three years (usually the last three). How many people actually work for the same employer for 40 years these days? Anyway this employee’s annuity would only be 28K a year after 40 years of service. Hardly living in the tall grass.
There is also a “matching” 401 program. IF an employee will contribute up to 5% of their salary it will be matched by 5% from the government. It isn’t that great of a deal, plus the options of plans to invest your money in are very poor...some of the worst out there.
Then, federal employees can draw Social Security....IF it is still there in the future.
No, it is not the wondrus retirement program most think it is.
BTW - Federal employee health insurance is very expensive. That is why many federal employees are retired military that are covered under TRICARE. To have decent medical coverage....you pay much. And many medical facilities don’t want to take federal employee health insurance.
Ummmm.... No. Most private businesses might be off tomorrow, but only take maybe 7 paid holidays per year. No veterans day, no MLK birthday, no Columbus Day, etc., etc. Most private businesses have not given raises for any reason in the past 4-5 years. Most private businesses are not giving Christmas bonuses.
“Oh, puleeeeese! I dont think I can take If I worked for a private company, Id make so much more kind of stuff anymore. As I always say to these public servants...Do it...do it...do it! None ever have.”
You sound like someone who is just jeolous you couldn’t get a federal job.
Does that include health care and retirement bennies?
My FiL is retired from the gub’mint and lives on what can only be described as an extravagant pension. He was a senior technocrat, admittedly, but he lives well.
goobermint pensions seem to be what's most quickly killing the most economically screwed states.
But once TSA is unionized, I'm sure we'll all get fantastically better groping,not to mention a once-a-year Greek style shutdown.
Health care for my family was a net zippo ... price was about the same. Both have 401K plans, both pension plans ...
I’ve had a federal job (USMC), post office and a couple state gigs before I saw the light in my mid 20’s. No...I am definitely not “jealous”.
This thread is a mirror of the nation we live in: nearly as many posts by government workers as by those who pay for the government.
Many of us remember that when we were young we might see, during the course of a day, a postal worker, a cop, some teachers and a county road grader or snowplow driver...that was government for us and we were grateful for it.
Those workers saw themselves as public servants and we were glad that they (and of course ALL military personnel) were on the job.
Nowadays I can’t turn around but to encounter an imperious tax assessor, tax collector, building inspector, fee collector, councilman, commissioner, regulator, permitter, faculty member, government union boss, designated government protected identity group member (or his or her lawyer), etc. etc. etc.
Those who are paying the tax bill are now also somehow working FOR those who collect and spend the proceeds. And they not only tell me what to do and how much it will cost me for the privilege, many of them also seem to despise me for trying to do anything at all.
Furthermore, as can be seen in this thread, they also wish to make clear just how damn tough they have it, apparently because of ingrates like me.
Is the narrative is now taking a 180 turn now that Dear Leader has got a 2nd term? In 2 years, Obama has made federal employees destitute, too!
so soon we'll see sites like this for federal employees?
FWIW, where I work, the contractors (private) are paid better than the GS (govt) folks. GS always have better benefits though, and a job for life unless he murders someone in broad daylight.
Good points, Whitey.
Notice that the ones I asked if they were at work when posting responses didn’t answer.
The retirement you describe is a better retiirement package than many people I know who have worked their whole lives outside the government.
What kind of retirement do you think private sector people make anyway?
Do some investigating and you will see that the retirement you described is above average and many people would jump at a chance to have a program like that.
My husband’s company had a good one about 12 years ago....but none since.
“The retirement you describe is a better retiirement package than many people I know who have worked their whole lives outside the government.”
NOT among white collar workers. Only the blue collar types “may” be better off in federal service.
My father worked for 40 years in the private sector (Bell System) and his retirement was outstanding. I have a brother, blue collar worker (non-union power company) who is also set to get a very good retirement.
Also, when the economy was and is good...then private sector employees make considerably better pay...it is fact. No problem with that because the private sector SHOULD pay better. However, with higher pay, then the employee has the ability to put more away into 401Ks etc.
The current federal employee retirement system is not great. Of course you may live in a backward part of the country where no one gets a decent retirement.
“Ive had a federal job (USMC), post office and a couple state gigs before I saw the light in my mid 20s. No...I am definitely not jealous.”
Military service is NOT a federal civilian job. State “gigs” are NOT federal either....in fact state jobs suck big time...when I worked for a state I was “envious” of my federal counterparts. You ARE jeolous and spouting just another form of class warfare. Or, you were one of those that just couldn’t “hack it” in government employment because you didn’t rise as fast as you thought you should....whatever the case. You are full of nonsense and spouting it.
Federal employement, is NOT the wonderful thing the jeolous think it is(I found out the hard way). It beats unemployment...and USED TO confer some degree of stability....something that is not so today.
Whatever, I am NOT interested in being an apologist for federal employees. Like in any company, there are good ones and there are passable ones, and there are poor ones.
I DO KNOW THIS....private contractors cost the government more than maintaining federal civilian employees when someone to do the job is needed. Of course, too many on FR are so anti-gov radicals that they think ANY employee of the government is some drain on them...regardless of the importance of the function. There is no sense engaging in such an arguement....because those making it are fools.
Do we need to cut back on the size of federal employees? Yes, but do so carefully and not using slash and burn tactics. Not ALL departments of gov should face the same cutting. A “get rid of them all” attitude is backwards ignorance and I won’t even acknowledge such foolish persons.
I am...National Weather Service.
Fire fighters, correctional workers, engineers, county hospital workers, mental health hospital workers,
My TSP pension is in mutual funds.
That said...I am not “envious” of anyone working for the government. Unless you control my mind somehow... LOL.