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Federal salaries fall behind private sector, panel says

By Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder

Official numbers released by the government late last week show salaries of federal workers falling slightly farther behind their private-sector counterparts in the last year, by an average of 2.1 percent across the country.

The disparity shows wide variations among the 31 regions where the government compares federal pay with salaries for private-sector jobs in order to determine pay raises. The Washington-Baltimore area, for example, showed among the largest gaps, with federal workers 38 percent behind the private sector.

The new numbers were among the statistics in Friday's annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the Federal Salary Council, a presidentially appointed panel tasked with recommending pay for federal workers. The salary gap cited Friday will help the council recommend government raises to President Obama for 2012. Congress has not approved a raise for 2011.

The new numbers reported by the government are likely to keep the bitter, election-year debate over federal salaries on the front burner well after Tuesday's midterm elections. Last year's numbers put federal pay an average of 22 percent behind the private sector, a conclusion disputed by conservative think tanks and Republican candidates.

The government's numbers also show that higher-paid, more senior employees tend to fall behind their counterparts at private companies, whereas lower-paid employees in government come out ahead.

"The highest-paid federal employee makes $400,000 a year," said Philip M. Doyle, assistant commissioner for compensation for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, referring to the president.

"There's a cap on federal salaries that's going to keep the higher end from going too high."

Government pay experts said it is hard to tell why federal workers fell slightly behind. To determine where the pay of federal workers stands in relation to the private sector, the government surveys more than 230 different jobs outside government, but the survey does not include Americans who are unemployed. The non-government jobs often include bonuses or incentive pay in financial services and other industries, which helps skew those salaries up,said Allan G. Hearne, pay expert with the Office of Personnel Management.

Republicans hoping to win back Congress on Tuesday have seized on federal salaries as symbols of overspending by the Obama administration. They say a public-private pay gap exists, but in the opposite direction, with the private sector lagging 22 percent behind the government.

The nine-member salary council is unknown to most outside the federal government -- and many inside. But it has a powerful role in recommending salary adjustments for up to 70 percent of the country's 1.9 million federal workers who are paid under the General Schedule (Hourly employees and the Senior Executive Service are paid under a different system).

The presidentially appointed group of union officials, labor relations and government pay experts determines not just the average pay gap, but adjustments to the General Schedule in different geographic areas, an add-on to salaries based on where jobs are located.

This "locality pay" is not based on the cost of living in different metropolitan areas, but the relative salaries of private-sector jobs. On Friday, the council heard requests from some groups trying to shift jobs into higher-paying localities.

John Berry, the government's personnel chief, has said his staff is studying ways to tweak the salary system, in part by taking into account shifts in the labor market: If accountants are in high demand they might be paid more; if there is little demand for administrative assistants maybe they should be paid less. But Berry has said that critics of government salaries are making false comparisons by comparing all public and private jobs. Since the government workforce is more skilled than the private one, comparing all jobs skews private-sector salaries down, he has said.

Congress has not enacted a pay raise for federal employees for 2011. A draft bill in the Senate would set the increase at 1.4 percent, as recommended by President Obama. The House has not taken a position. Congress most likely will deal with federal salaries as part of a general spending bill during the lame-duck session after Tuesday's elections.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Lisa Rein and Eric Yoder  | November 1, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Next: The Federal Eye hits the campaign trail

Comments

so what?
If private salaries are more, then fed employees should quit and go to work for private firms.

The federal benefits, - health care, days off, flex scheduling, have a value far beyond pay.

Freeze federal pay for the next 3 years.

If peole quit, then fine - a smaller work force.

Posted by: newagent99 | November 1, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

newagent99 - It would help if you provided specifics, because I'm not sure most people understand exactly what's included in the federal benefits and how they compare to private sector. I'm a fed and I pay $270 every two weeks for my share of my health insurance premium - what do people in the private sector pay? I get 10 holidays per year - what do others get? I have to work a 50 hour week. 40 hours must be M-F 9-5, the other 10 can be worked anytime (mornings, evenings, weekends) - how does that compare to private sector? I also must be on call 24/7, return any emails with two hours 24/7, and not only report all travel, but provide the details of all of my personal finances and submit to polygraphs. When is the last time you (assuming you are private sector) provided the details of your mortgage, car loan, or investments to your employer?

Posted by: justanotherguy | November 1, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"...by an average of 2.1 percent across the country". LOL I see the contracts...I know what I make and what contractors make!

They must be using Obamamath.

Posted by: snowbucks | November 1, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I dont know where these stats come from. Try checking the APG. You will find govt employees making an average of $100,000. I worked for over 40 years and never made that. This is for an office position NOT anything special; general accounting etc.AND SS is getting no raise because the cost of living has not increased. WHY SHOULD GOVT EMPLOYEES GET ONE/

Posted by: jpiorky | November 1, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Study after study after study has showed that on a job for job basis the federal workers make 23 percent LESS money than those doing the same job in the private sector, not 2.1%. Maybe they fell another 2.1% behind last year. Federal workers exchange some job stability for the higher wages in the private sector.

Posted by: rash67 | November 1, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"Official numbers released by the government late last week show salaries of federal workers falling slightly farther behind their private-sector counterparts in the last year, by an average of 2.1 percent across the country."

Then why are federal workers staying longer with the federal government than employees with their employer in the private sector?

Posted by: ahashburn | November 1, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

many of us in the private sector pay far more than 270 every 2 weeks for insurance much less comprehensive than that available to federal law enforcement personnel. we also are not elegible for gold plated early age retirement and we are certainly not provided defined benefit retirement income. instead we find ourselves responsible for our own 401k, seps, etc. and 50 hourse is a short work week at the professional level. when i accept a consulting contract from a financial institution i routinely provide comprenensive financial disclosure both to qualify for the work and to avoid any conflict of interest. i also agree to make myself available as needed via email, phone or in person. after newagent99 puts in a very few years he can double dip into a govt contractor situation in a security/intelligence(no matter how oxymoronic) role and be very highly compensated from our tax money forever. if the combination of very tangible short and long term benefits of government employment is not appealing and the status and prestige associated with "protecting the homeland" is insufficient then newagent99 should go into a pay for actual performance based work environment and see if he/she likes it better. i love being self-employed but at times i do miss the security of the public trough i fed at for the first 10 years of my professional life.

Posted by: george32 | November 1, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

It is my feeling that the government employees of today get very adequate salaries and plenty of benefits. This outweighs the alternative of being on the unemployment lines like the private sector people of today are having to do. Jobs are disappearing, industry is disappearing. Government is too big now, do not need more of it out there.

Posted by: jcole6320 | November 1, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

It would help if you provided specifics, because I'm not sure most people understand exactly what's included in the federal benefits and how they compare to private sector. I'm a fed and I pay $270 every two weeks for my share of my health insurance premium - what do people in the private sector pay? I get 10 holidays per year - what do others get? I have to work a 50 hour week. 40 hours must be M-F 9-5, the other 10 can be worked anytime (mornings, evenings, weekends) - how does that compare to private sector? I also must be on call 24/7, return any emails with two hours 24/7, and not only report all travel, but provide the details of all of my personal finances and submit to polygraphs. When is the last time you (assuming you are private sector) provided the details of your mortgage, car loan, or investments to your employer?


Posted by: justanotherguy | November 1, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

-----------------------------------------

Just.

I commend you for being a good representative of federal employees. As a federal employee of 20 years, I share your view. In addition to the public disclosure of my salary and other information, I have to be subjected to my friends making 100k while I make less doing the same job. I have to be concerned with the HATCH Act, ethics, a measely pay increase, and staying in a grade for years while my private sector friends get lavish gifts, 30k bonuses, trips. My background checked every 2 to 10 years. My credit has to perfect despite that I have pre-existing conditions which anytime could require surgery resulting in thousands of dollars in medical bills. My entire family being subjected to my choice to work for the Federal government. I can go on and on about my federal job and the salary issues. Oh, I pay over 300.00 per month in benefits.

Posted by: Sincear2021 | November 1, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

@ ahashburn, people tend to stay with the federal government because you get the stability. If the government wants to fire you they have to prove that you are not doing your job. I worked for a private company and one day had my evaluation (in which I received an excellent) and the very next week that I pulled up in a mg midget vehicle (my supervisor had some old vega and saw me) I was fired that day stating something about poor performance. Now remember the week before I got an excellent performance rating. The private sector can just fire you when they get jealous about what you have and don't have to answer for their actions. I have worked for the government since and still getting excellent performance ratings.

Posted by: justmyopinion49 | November 1, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

To the private sector complainers here -- do you have to inform your employer if you move in with your boyfriend / girlfriend? Do you have to report if you have a "two night stand," and report the full name of your partner? Do you have to report ahead of time if you're going on any foreign travel? Do you have to report if you're friendly with any foreigners, even in the USA? Can you be polygraphed at any time under penalty of losing your job? Thousands of feds do, at lower salaries than yours. Why don't you become a fed too?

Posted by: AdventurerVA | November 1, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I am a retired Federal employee. I recall being told when I was recruited that I would make more money in the Federal government but that I would have good benefits. I was naive at the time and did not realize what a political football Federal pay and benefits were. I saw my spousal and personal SS benefits go away when Reagan thought it was good politics. I have listened to the right wing, Coburn of Oklahoma, for one call for my pension to go away. I have explained to my kids that when the right gets it way and I have to be taken out somewhere to die like they do in primitive societies that I would like to go to the Grand Canyon where I have good memories.

Posted by: withersb | November 1, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Rewrite the headline to say "Total compensation package for Federal employees outstrips private employee by a mile".
.
We know the retirement benefits afforded Federal employees are generous. That needs to be factored into the equation, not just take-home pay.

Posted by: B-rod | November 1, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

As a fed, the major MAJOR bloat I see is in compliance with all the Congressionally mandated checks and `safeguards' for COI etc. I can't buy cheap airline tickets for my work travel because some politician's PAC got some donation from some travel agency so that they get to handle all my group's travel. Perhaps a system with Federal employees given more responsibility for their performance, with spot audits replacing idiotic second-guessing on every trivial purchase, might be much more economical and efficient for all sides. Of course, all the small business exception abuses that provide fronts for big businesses would also be curbed in such an event, so don't expect it to happen anytime soon. For all the private sector people, does your fourteen year old have to restrict his iPod app development because you don't want to do all the paperwork and ethics reviews that would be required? Can you invest as you see fit, or do you have to provide detailed information every year to your employer? Think that is an invasion of privacy? Yes, there's job stability of sorts, but having worked in academia, business and government, all I can tell you is that people are pretty much the same in all sectors. There are slackers and there are hard workers. That's the universality of game theory.

Posted by: instanton | November 1, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Come on, public employees in Ohio make far more money than the private sector. Just in my area, the median household income is 60K while the policemen make an average of over 90,000, firemen average around 80,000, and road workers average 70,000 and those numbers do not include benefits that are far superior to the private sector. The numbers you are using for this "study" are suspect at best and intentionally skewed or include executive salaries that upwardly slant the private sector numbers. Public work around here is the highest paying sector and I doubt this area is different than most.

Posted by: mellonbill | November 1, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Anyone believing that regular Federal Employees are over-paid should go to work for the Federal Government for a year, and then they'll have something worthwhile to say. Until then, all anyone has are the new papers, opinions of political candidates in an election hear, and a mess of survey's that don't mean any more than the paper/email they're read on. I can’t believe the people that believe everything they’re told instead of finding out for themselves. Either put up or shut up – otherwise buy a dog and name it Clue, and then you’ll have one.

Posted by: FederalWorkerBee | November 1, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse


Federal contractors are private sector employees.

Posted by: Thoughtful-Ted | November 1, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Quote:
I dont know where these stats come from. Try checking the APG. You will find govt employees making an average of $100,000. I worked for over 40 years and never made that. This is for an office position NOT anything special; general accounting etc.AND SS is getting no raise because the cost of living has not increased. WHY SHOULD GOVT EMPLOYEES GET ONE/

Posted by: jpiorky

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You haven't purchased groceries or meat recently if you believe that, sir.

Posted by: rmlwj1 | November 1, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

And, of course, "official numbers" completely ignore tens of thousands of dollars in leave and "benefits" handed out to unremovable bureaucrats.

It's not even lunchtime yet, 'crats, get back to your naps.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I think the benefits federal workers receive make up for less pay. And, except for very extreme circumstances, a federal worker has a job for life.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 1, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans hoping to win back Congress on Tuesday have seized on federal salaries as symbols of overspending by the Obama administration. They say a public-private pay gap exists, but in the opposite direction, with the private sector lagging 22 percent behind the government."

Unfortunately for Republicans, outside of Washington, most federal employees are Republican, so demonizing them and destroying them is not going to win their hearts and minds.

But it is typical. Republicans love to hate the Federal worker. Thank goodness so many in the DC area do vote Democrat.

And if a pay gap in the other direction really exists... prove it. I just lost an employee to a private sector offer with 60% more earnings and more paid time off with a day care incentive.

Posted by: trambusto | November 1, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Contractors working to the government are subject to the same security/polygraph requirements that the federal govt is. Yes private pay is higher, but the benefits don't begin to compare. I don't know anyone in the private sector that gets a $30 k bonus. Yes its more than the feds get, but its almost always less than 10% of the salary. Yes, I pay less for my health benefits, but I also have a $1,000 deductible and higher copays.

Posted by: mdembski1 | November 1, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I dont know where these stats come from. Try checking the APG. You will find govt employees making an average of $100,000. I worked for over 40 years and never made that. This is for an office position NOT anything special; general accounting etc.AND SS is getting no raise because the cost of living has not increased. WHY SHOULD GOVT EMPLOYEES GET ONE/

Posted by: jpiorky | November 1, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse


-------------

Jpiorky, you're making assumptions. General office positions do not make $100K a year. They are typically in the GS-5 to GS-7 range with a national base salary of $27,400 to $33,900 and a cost of living adjustment in the DC area of 24.22%.

Those making over $100K in the DC area are GS-14s and above, which are senior employees. Many federal workers spend their entire 30+ year career trying to reach that level.

So yes, if you look at Federal employees in DC, where agency and departmental headquarters are located and where senior employees are concentrated, then you will see many are making above $100K. But this is not the "average" for Federal employees nationwide.

Posted by: trambusto | November 1, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Dudes, I make 50% of what I can make in the private sector. The only people that make too much are lower-paid positions like secretaries. You know why we get flex time? For retention, because they don't give raises or bonuses. Trust me, I'm out of here when the economy turns around.

Lastly, mandatory leave without pay is simply a drop in an ocean of public spending - if you want to make a difference, cut one plane from the Air Force budget.

Posted by: nomo1 | November 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Kick away. Just be ready to accept less services from the smaller gov workforce. (Please spare me the dated comments about how it was done 20 yrs ago. )

Posted by: jlatwi | November 1, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

What this does not say is that Federal Workers have secure jobs which those of us in the private sector don't have any more. They get raises each year, many get a bonus and the vacation is fantastic compared to the private sector. I also see the whining about how they get paid less for the same job but the fact is they don't do the same job. In addition if it is so bad paying why are they not running to the private sector?

Posted by: Pilot1 | November 1, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Come on, public employees in Ohio make far more money than the private sector. Just in my area, the median household income is 60K while the policemen make an average of over 90,000, firemen average around 80,000, and road workers average 70,000 and those numbers do not include benefits that are far superior to the private sector. The numbers you are using for this "study" are suspect at best and intentionally skewed or include executive salaries that upwardly slant the private sector numbers. Public work around here is the highest paying sector and I doubt this area is different than most.

Posted by: mellonbill

The public employees you refer to in Ohio are county or state employees, not federal.

As for the pay, why not investigate www.usajobs.com to see what salaries are being offered with specific jobs? No reason not to toss your hat into the ring.

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"They get raises each year, many get a bonus and the vacation is fantastic compared to the private sector."

No, no one gets a raise each and every year; many is a vague term, do you know exactly how many receive a bonus?; are you citing the federal holidays, or hours earned towards vacation leave?

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@ jlatwi - remarkable defensiveness to say "kick away" as if anyone questioning the current setup must be kicking you, while you are down.
assuming a victim mentality is right in line with my issues with the federal workforce. too many people, too few demands and hours, and too much redundancy. layers after layer of "budget analysts" and other padded titles that do not even exist in the private sector.
if you are so worried that you are in a victim mode, good luck heading out into the current economy to compete for a private job. get back to us with the results of that job hunt, won't you?
I would *never* hire a fed. clockwatchers and turf-guarders. I need workers who perform well, make money for the company and commit to the helping others. never seen that in the federal agencies I deal with, Dilberts all of them.

Posted by: FloridaChick | November 1, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"layers after layer of "budget analysts" and other padded titles that do not even exist in the private sector."

Don't exist in the private sector, really?

Budget analysts held 67,200 jobs in 2008.
2009: Employment (1) Employment
RSE (3) Mean hourly
wage Mean annual
wage (2) Wage RSE (3)
60,970 (1) 1.2% (3) $33.29 $69,240 (2) 0.3% (3)


BUDGET ANALYST, F/T To assist with preparing annual agency budget, monthly budget vs. actual reports, monthly closing duties, analyzing variances, G/L accounts and special projects. BBA in accounting and at least 1 year's experience in budgetary review/preparation required. Please fax resume/salary requirements to: Little Flower Children and Family Services: 631-929-6203 or e-mail: wadingriver-jobs@lfchild.org or fax to: 631-929-6203. EOE

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

After having worked for many years for the Federal government in DC and seen many overpaid support people in HR, logistics, contracting, management analysis - not contribute anything to the bottom line - but continue to earn 6 figure salaries, I was totalled disgusted and quit. At least now in a private sector setting, I know I am making a contribution, actually earning my money and not being a drain on the American tax payer who is struggling to make ends meet. Anybody watch 60 Minutes last night? It's a travesty that the the Federal government just prints money and "lives beyond its means..." while State governments must balance their budgets and communities suffer. And, in the long run, who will pay the price that entitlements aren't cut? All of us will.

Posted by: AGM611 | November 1, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

In response to:
And, of course, "official numbers" completely ignore tens of thousands of dollars in leave and "benefits" handed out to unremovable bureaucrats.

It's not even lunchtime yet, 'crats, get back to your naps.
***********************************
I pay almost $500 every two weeks for health insurance which doesnt cover most of the therapies for my daughter--I pay out of pocket.
I earn 6 hr of leave and 4 hr of sick.
I need surgery & will be out for 6 wks & I don't have enough leave. I have to take leave without pay because we don't have short term disability benefits.
How do I pay my bills?

Posted by: SilverSpring2 | November 1, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree that we need to reduce the bloat. Let's start by getting rid of 50% of all senators and congressmen. Reduce the Supreme Court to 5 members ... and then of course, there are all those overlapping military contracts and such. Why can't the Joint Chiefs figure out what kind of ships, planes & what-not they all need. Why do they each have to have their own model? Cars were cheaper when your choices were black or white. And they were better made then ... by Americans. Why not start with the basics before the socialists and the rich guys turn it all upside and lie about it some more?

Posted by: _Yo_ | November 1, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

This has got to be the most bogus cherry picked study in the world.

Federal employees have no job loss, no benefit risk, no pension risk. In fact their T&S plan gives them exclusive access to buy G-Fund obligations from treasury paying 30X more than 90 day t-bills and fully liquid.

Then add in vacation and sick pay accruals, Fed holidays, family leave benefits and double dipping pensions by transferring between agencies, and don't leave out the cars they get that sit in front of their house because they are encouraged to work at home.

What a load of dung this study must be. Get rid of 25% of them and guess what, the government would still run.

Oh, and don't forget the revolving door to K-street that opens after the years they run interference for lobbyists.

Posted by: wesatch | November 1, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree that we need to reduce the bloat. Let's start by getting rid of 50% of all senators and congressmen. Reduce the Supreme Court to 5 members ... and then of course, there are all those overlapping military contracts and such. Why can't the Joint Chiefs figure out what kind of ships, planes & what-not they all need. Why do they each have to have their own model? Cars were cheaper when your choices were black or white. And they were better made then ... by Americans. Why not start with the basics before the socialists and the rich guys turn it all upside down and lie about it some more?

Posted by: _Yo_ | November 1, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If these republican congressmen think the federal pay scale is too high, they ought to first take a pay cut themselves.

Posted by: YadaYada1 | November 1, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I agree that we need to reduce the bloat. Let's start by getting rid of 50% of all senators and congressmen. Reduce the Supreme Court to 5 members ... and then of course, there are all those overlapping military contracts and such. Why can't the Joint Chiefs figure out what kind of ships, planes & what-not they all need. Why do they each have to have their own model? Cars were cheaper when your choices were black or white. And they were better made then ... by Americans. Why not start with the basics before the socialists and the rich guys turn it all upside and lie about it some more?

Posted by: _Yo_ | November 1, 2010 1:43 PM

******************************************

The best comment I've read on here in a long time!!!!

Posted by: TheChampishere | November 1, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Just to straighten out a misperception that will not die--federal employees hired after 1983 do not get a pension. They get a 401k style retirement account (called the Thrift Savings Plan) to which they must contribute, just as most employees in the private sector.

Posted by: SoCal41 | November 1, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: adfjsfsfg | November 1, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

this is just like climate reform. you can get statistics to say whatever you want if you massage the data the right way. Of course union officials are going to find a 25% gap in public/private sector incomes. Conflict of interest??? This is basic, they assume we're idiots.

Posted by: batigol85 | November 1, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Just to straighten out a misperception that will not die--federal employees hired after 1983 do not get a pension. They get a 401k style retirement account (called the Thrift Savings Plan) to which they must contribute, just as most employees in the private sector."

Wrong. We also get a Defined Benefit Plan (aka "a pension").

Posted by: bassclef | November 1, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, this entire Cato BS just caters to those out there with the attention spans of a 6 month baby.

The whole "comparison" left out one critical component..."location".

So basically, what these ridiculous Republican talking point studies are saying is that : an engineer in DC makes more than an engineer in Spearfish SD".

Well golly gee, who knew that salary adjustments are made for people in urban and rural environments.

And whomever was "claiming" that the ave fed in DC makes 100K needs to turn off the Hannity and crawl outside your cave.

100K and above salaries are for the GS 14's and 15's, which is the top of the payscale where you get after a lifetime of working for the FED.

Lastly, no fed, not even Senators get a pension that covers their entire salary when they retire, so please just think about something prior to saying it so people don't laugh at you.

Posted by: Nosh1 | November 1, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Federal employees do get a defined benefit plan, and I think that most of them are under the FERS program. But what Congress gives, Congress can take away. CSRS is prior to FERS.

What is FERS?

FERS stands for the Federal Employees Retirement System. FERS became effective in 1987 and most new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983 are automatically covered by FERS. FERS is a three-tiered retirement plan. The three components are the:

* FERS Basic Benefit
* Social Security Benefit
* Thrift Savings Plan Benefit

Most FERS employees pay 0.8% of basic pay for FERS basic benefits. The agency contributes 10.7% or more to FERS. The FERS basic benefit provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and may be reduced for early retirement or to provide survivor protection.

The FERS basic benefit is computed based on your length of service and the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service (know as the "high-3" average pay). Generally, the FERS basic benefit is 1% of your high-3 average pay times your years of creditable service.

FERS employees can currently contribute up to $16,500 of basic pay to the Thrift Savings Plan. An automatic Government contribution adds 1% of basic pay to every FERS employee's TSP account. The Government adds up to another 4% of basic pay, depending on how much the employee chooses to contribute.

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 1:06 PM

The public employees you refer to in Ohio are county or state employees, not federal.

As for the pay, why not investigate www.usajobs.com to see what salaries are being offered with specific jobs? No reason not to toss your hat into the ring.

I guess skowronek is assuming I make less than the public employees in my neck of the woods. A poor Assumption. I'm just tired of getting tax out the wazoo so that menial public labor can make more than most, retire earlier than most, and with better pensions and health care than most.

Posted by: mellonbill | November 1, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I would *never* hire a fed. clockwatchers and turf-guarders. I need workers who perform well, make money for the company and commit to the helping others. never seen that in the federal agencies I deal with, Dilberts all of them.

Posted by: FloridaChick | November 1, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

-------------------------

Well I'm glad to know that you actively discriminate!

This is what separates federal employees from your highly regarded private sector employees. We aren't motivated by greed to turn profits for you. We operate at least cost and no frills and our allegience is to Uncle Sam and the American People.

If you really want to put a nail in the coffin of public spending, it's not federal salaries that you need to attack, but your own Congressman's pork barrel politics wherein he or she secures contracts for big corporations like Halliburton, Boeing, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin -- you know... the Private Sector.


Posted by: trambusto | November 1, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 1:06 PM

The public employees you refer to in Ohio are county or state employees, not federal.

As for the pay, why not investigate www.usajobs.com to see what salaries are being offered with specific jobs? No reason not to toss your hat into the ring.

I guess skowronek is assuming I make less than the public employees in my neck of the woods. A poor Assumption. I'm just tired of getting tax out the wazoo so that menial public labor can make more than most, retire earlier than most, and with better pensions and health care than most.

Posted by: mellonbill

I apologize for my misunderstanding. But you're still mixing county and state employees up with federal employees. I have no idea what goes into hiring menial public laborers in your area, nor what would determine their salaries.

Posted by: Skowronek | November 1, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe this for a minute but if I read this right, all they compared was salary. No benefits, sick days, pension, vacation, flexibility and work rules. What's the benefit of lifetime employment and early retirement?

What about productivity? I worked in the defense industry. My 50-man department was "watched" by a 12 man gov. group. They were never to be found until program review and then we spend days helping them to not look stupid in front of the Admiral if they were called on. The Admirals always seemed to know better.

This in no way applies to the Military who are upright and are as result driven as the best in any profession. It is the bureaucrats who I would never hire even if I could afford them.

Posted by: flyover22 | November 1, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I want to take on these comments peice by peice. But I am going to contain to key points.

I think Fed employees are such an easy target because there is a peice of envy built in---in these challenging times.

Everyone says they want small government but .....ask them to give up something during these tough time and it is hard to come up with a list.

Would you give up Defense, inspections, financial assistance, medical...harder to cut, huh?


To that person who said I have been working for years--and I don't make 100K. And most likely if you managed to come to government you would not make it there either. In these comparisons they are comparing apples to apples, orange to orange, and mango to mango. There is an industry comparison survey that determines grade, salary and benefits.

That person who makes 100+ in the Federal survey can only make that if eligible to make that amount in private sector. And when they leave--they often make much more.


The function still has to get down. There is a relationship beween contractors and federal employees that is long standing. And a contractor makes soooo much more than we do---with comparable benefits but with perks. Government employees get benefits but not perks. We will not have box seats at Fedex, expense reports for lunches or any cush benefit commonly seen in the private sector. Try looking for a spoon in a Federal lunch room--try again.

But most important--the issues with the economy have more to do with people's confidence to spend money because they do not feel safe in their job. Sending out missives that job cuts or coming will just have people holding tighter to their wallets. It is a vicious cycle.

The president should just get people back to work...and then when the number look lower then cut the fat.

Posted by: CultureClub | November 1, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

BS. They never factor in Federal benefits, pension, vacation, sick leaves, and last the job security..If it were so low and terrible, then why no one leave?

Posted by: drkly | November 1, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Case in point: you don't see a stampede of federal workers into the private sector. In fact, the general consensus in the D.C. area is that getting into "Club Fed" is like winning the lottery. So, it can't be all that bad, can it?? Also, this comparison of private verses public salaries is a cover-up for the real problem. If you measure the productivity of public workers and whether they have "earned" their pay, you will see why they are so overpaid. When I was in the government, I saw employees, GS-15s in many cases, go to the movies, take three hour lunches, chit-chat with co-workers, and surf the 'net all day, every day. They had the gall to act miffed when someone came to them with real work.

Posted by: fingal | November 1, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Case in point: you don't see a stampede of federal workers into the private sector. In fact, the general consensus in the D.C. area is that getting into "Club Fed" is like winning the lottery. So, it can't be all that bad, can it?? Also, this comparison of private verses public salaries is a cover-up for the real problem. If you measure the productivity of public workers and whether they have "earned" their pay, you will see why they are so overpaid. When I was in the government, I saw employees, GS-15s in many cases, go to the movies, take three hour lunches, chit-chat with co-workers, and surf the 'net all day, every day. They had the gall to act miffed when someone came to them with real work. In one position that pays well into the six figures (GS-14s), it is impossible to get that job because no one ever leaves. Why? Because they can "telecommute", start at 9 am and be done with work by 1:00 p.m. Afterwards, they are free to head to the gym, take care of kids, shopping, etc. How many jobs in the private sector have those kinds of hours at pay of $110k to $140k?

Posted by: fingal | November 1, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

There is a very simple way to measure who is overpaid. Look at the market. You don't see a stampede of federal workers into the private sector. In fact, the general consensus in the D.C. area is that getting into "Club Fed" is like winning the lottery. So, it can't be all that bad, can it?? Also, this comparison of private verses public salaries is a cover-up for the real problem. If you measure the productivity of public workers and whether they have "earned" their pay, you will see why they are so overpaid. When I was in the government, I saw employees, GS-15s in many cases, go to the movies, take three hour lunches, chit-chat with co-workers, and surf the 'net all day, every day. They had the gall to act miffed when someone came to them with real work. In one position that pays well into the six figures (GS-14s), it is impossible to get that job because no one ever leaves. Why? Because they can "telecommute", start at 9 am and be done with work by 1:00 p.m. Afterwards, they are free to head to the gym, take care of kids, shopping, etc. How many jobs in the private sector have those kinds of hours at pay of $110k to $140k?

Posted by: fingal | November 1, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Most of these comments just go to prove that people will never let facts get in the way of their misinformed opinions.

Posted by: GaryJean | November 1, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

so what?
If private salaries are more, then fed employees should quit and go to work for private firms.
Posted by: newagent99
___________________________________________
So what? What is that so many excellent feds are quitting and going to work for private firms. The pay and atmosphere are a LOT better.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | November 1, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I've been in the military, the private sector, and a federal government civilian. There are good and bad everywhere. What is so amusing about these posts is the ignorance and urban legend passed along by people who can't spell or effectively express their poorly thought out rants.

Posted by: ludditegirl | November 1, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that benefits are much better. I have worked in the private sector and am now a fed. My health insurance is no better than the other places I've worked, and my retirement is worse (the pension system is gone, folks). Salary is somewhat lower.

The problem with the federal staff is the number of long-time workers who have stuck around and are now earning ridiculous salaries, but cotributing little. The attempt to limit the number of higher paid positions results in an inability to hire the PhDs we need in my field, all the while we are stuck with many higher paid staff who aren't really doing their jobs. When those folks retire, we are going to be in trouble, since we haven't been able to recruit or retain good people with enough experience to replace them.

What I will say about the federal workforce is that most bring a passion to their work that will outweigh some discrepancies in salary. But as soon as we make their jobs more of a hassle than they can stand, or less beneficial to them (a combination of pay, benefits, but also the intrisic value of contributing something), we will lose them. Do not underestimate the ability of the bureaucracy and the political system to make federal employment less desirable.

Posted by: skeptic421 | November 1, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I disagree that benefits are much better. I have worked in the private sector and am now a fed. My health insurance is no better than the other places I've worked, and my retirement is worse (the pension system is gone, folks). Salary is somewhat lower.

The problem with the federal staff is the number of long-time workers who have stuck around and are now earning ridiculous salaries, but cotributing little. The attempt to limit the number of higher paid positions results in an inability to hire the PhDs we need in my field, all the while we are stuck with many higher paid staff who aren't really doing their jobs. When those folks retire, we are going to be in trouble, since we haven't been able to recruit or retain good people with enough experience to replace them.

What I will say about the federal workforce is that most bring a passion to their work that will outweigh some discrepancies in salary. But as soon as we make their jobs more of a hassle than they can stand, or less beneficial to them (a combination of pay, benefits, but also the intrisic value of contributing something), we will lose them. Do not underestimate the ability of the bureaucracy and the political system to make federal employment less desirable.

Posted by: skeptic421 | November 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I would really like to know what agency these people who are permitted these extreme flex schedules mentioned work for, as I have NEVER known someone, in the two federal agencies I have worked for, who (a) didn't have enough work to fill at least a 40 hour week, every week, and (b) had no accountability to the hours they put in. Yes, I have known some people who did alternative work schedules or flex schedules, but they were carefully monitored and pre-approved. Allowing someone to work whatever 8-10 hours they want a day, so long as they're there during core hours and put in at least 40 hours a week doesn't cost taxpayers ANYTHING. Heck, most of the professional private-sector employees I know have much the same flexibility (we never call any of the private-sector businesses we work with before 11 AM, because that's when they come in).

Federal benefits aren't terrible, but have become more expensive in recent years, just like the private sector. The vacation time + holidays are adequate (but don't compare to CATO, who gives their staff 5 weeks of paid leave a year...people in glass houses and all). Unlike many private-sector companies, we don't have separate paid leave for things like maternity/paternity, so we have to save it up or go without pay for anything that will have us off for an extended period. As someone already mentioned, we don't have short-term disability, so if we get hurt/sick and run out of leave, we have to go without pay. Yes, though, like with any employer, we are entitled to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid if we don't have leave to cover it) under FMLA. If your private employer won't give you that time off (even w/o pay), they are breaking the law.

I took the lower rate of pay to get the unparalled experience the government offers. They are one of the few places left that will hire people right out of grad school, and the jobs are so diverse that you gain expertise in things you can't study in-depth in college (I have greatly expanded my expertise in accounting and international trade law, while putting to work my college-earned knowledge of economics). But it ain't easy. Both jobs I've had have had over 100 applicants for 1 entry-level position (paying under $50K a year). I was expected to study new topics in my free time to become competent in a broad-ranging job. And, while they will pay for it directly or in-kind (student loan repayment, which doesn't account for the interest), we are all expected to continue our education through continuing classes and additional degree and certificate programs.

Oh, and I'd kill for an assistant...I'd actually be more than happy to share them with 20 people. I regularly spend an extra 30-60 minutes a day at work doing administrative work that most private-sector folks would just give to their secretary (sending faxes, writing general memos, etc.). I still wouldn't leave on time most days, but I'd resent it less.

Posted by: MsD2 | November 1, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I would really like to know what agency these people who are permitted these extreme flex schedules mentioned work for, as I have NEVER known someone, in the two federal agencies I have worked for, who (a) didn't have enough work to fill at least a 40 hour week, every week, and (b) had no accountability to the hours they put in. Yes, I have known some people who did alternative work schedules or flex schedules, but they were carefully monitored and pre-approved. Allowing someone to work whatever 8-10 hours they want a day, so long as they're there during core hours and put in at least 40 hours a week doesn't cost taxpayers ANYTHING. Heck, most of the professional private-sector employees I know have much the same flexibility (we never call any of the private-sector businesses we work with before 11 AM, because that's when they come in).

Federal benefits aren't terrible, but have become more expensive in recent years, just like the private sector. The vacation time + holidays are adequate (but don't compare to CATO, who gives their staff 5 weeks of paid leave a year...people in glass houses and all). Unlike many private-sector companies, we don't have separate paid leave for things like maternity/paternity, so we have to save it up or go without pay for anything that will have us off for an extended period. As someone already mentioned, we don't have short-term disability, so if we get hurt/sick and run out of leave, we have to go without pay. Yes, though, like with any employer, we are entitled to 12 weeks of leave (unpaid if we don't have leave to cover it) under FMLA. If your private employer won't give you that time off (even w/o pay), they are breaking the law.

I took the lower rate of pay to get the unparalled experience the government offers. They are one of the few places left that will hire people right out of grad school, and the jobs are so diverse that you gain expertise in things you can't study in-depth in college (I have greatly expanded my expertise in accounting and international trade law, while putting to work my college-earned knowledge of economics). But it ain't easy. Both jobs I've had have had over 100 applicants for 1 entry-level position (paying under $50K a year). I was expected to study new topics in my free time to become competent in a broad-ranging job. And, while they will pay for it directly or in-kind (student loan repayment, which doesn't account for the interest), we are all expected to continue our education through continuing classes and additional degree and certificate programs.

Oh, and I'd kill for an assistant...I'd actually be more than happy to share them with 20 people. I regularly spend an extra 30-60 minutes a day at work doing administrative work that most private-sector folks would just give to their secretary (sending faxes, writing general memos, etc.). I still wouldn't leave on time most days, but I'd resent it less.

Posted by: MsD2 | November 1, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hm....don't know what's up with the double-post...

Just a few more points:

The professional private sector in Ohio is completely shot (I spent the first 25 hellish years of my life there), so it's not surprising the government, on average, pays more. You'd have to pay me a bundle to live in Ohio, even with the lower cost of living. Many friends ask me if I would ever consider going back. 2 responses: uncontrollable laughter and "no, I like having a job."

My friend recently took a government job for the stability and benefits. She quit after 2 months complaining about the low pay and having to do all of her own administrative work.

Finally, one of the reasons we have so many layers of administration in the bureaucracy is because of political rhetoric that the government is wasteful and corrupt. There are certainly some people who will abuse any system (even in the private sector), but the arduous, ensrined in law requirements to audit everything repeatedly and assess the effectiveness of everything down to our bookshelves leads to many of the "useless" jobs people love to complain about.

Posted by: MsD2 | November 1, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Federal benefits are far greater than those offered by private employers. Having worked as a computer software developer in the DC areas for many years, I find it hard to believe federal salaries are not much higher than private business salaries. On the other hand, it is much easier to get to a GS-13 or higher in this area than it is if you are a federal worker in the hinderlands. I can verify that this is true, since many of my friends were stuck at GS-11 or GS-12 when they worked elsewhere, then they moved up here and got to be GS-13s and GS-14s.

Posted by: samsara15 | November 1, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

As someone who bounced around several professions in both public/private sectors....who exactly knows a person that makes MORE in public than private? I mean, a single profession?

It is laughable seeing a lawyer in the feds making more than private. It just doesnt exist

Posted by: Bious | November 1, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

All I can say... if any of you think the federal worker is overpaid, under-worked and have a wealth of benefits... please go visit usajobs.gov and start applying. Hopefully you can qualify and achieve a clearance... then please come back to us and tell us how cozy your new responsibilities are and how lavish your pay is and how your benefits are providing such luxury for you and your family... please do tell!!! but don't hold your breath because 80 to 90% of us federal workers can barely make ends-meet. Local communities ping ultra-property taxes on us cause they know they can... local utilities raise their rates and place hidden fees on us... just like you, we have to pay $2 for a loaf of bread and $80 for a case of baby similac. By the time we pay our utilities, food and so-called great benefit fees, WE ARE BROKE too!

I am sick and tired of seeing a bunch of losers come on here claiming federal workers are overpaid, lazy and good-for-nothings... most of YOU couldn't walk in my shoes for a week! The same with these republican hypocrits congressman who skew their Cato surveys and call for heads from the federal worker, but turn around and pork their district projects with billions and they'll be the first with the voting button in their fists to give themselves a fat raise! But they want to hype all you and point the finger at federal workers because the economy suks! Yeah, it's their fault... You are great SHEEPLE!


Posted by: darbyohara | November 2, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

2% my @ss. I make 1/3rd of what private 3rd year attorneys make. I want my $200,000 salary and I want it two years ago.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | November 2, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest more research is needed before an adequate argument can be made. I have worked both in the private sector and as a Federal employee. I can tell you that the contractors who support the federal government get far more in pay than the Federal workers do. Their labor rates in my field speak to that. I can also say that coming from a branch that is working with less than half the staff we should have, a cushy job it is not. Stability is the greatest benefit, but also consider that layoffs do happen in the Federal government too. Finally keep in mind I pay a heck of a lot per month to have health benefits just like everyone else, its not free. Less and less is covered by that health insurance each year too. I am not sure what other "exceptional" benefits I am suppose to have? I have a 401K but those are funds I put in, it does include some matching but that is pretty standard around the private sector as well.

Posted by: rhjr | November 2, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I would suggest more research is needed before an adequate argument can be made. I have worked both in the private sector and as a Federal employee. I can tell you that the contractors who support the federal government get far more in pay than the Federal workers do. Their labor rates in my field speak to that. I can also say that coming from a branch that is working with less than half the staff we should have, a cushy job it is not. Stability is the greatest benefit, but also consider that layoffs do happen in the Federal government too. Finally keep in mind I pay a heck of a lot per month to have health benefits just like everyone else, its not free. Less and less is covered by that health insurance each year too. I am not sure what other "exceptional" benefits I am suppose to have? I have a 401K but those are funds I put in, it does include some matching but that is pretty standard around the private sector as well.

Posted by: rhjr | November 2, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

darbyohara, anarcho-liberal-tarian, et al, how about you quit you good for nothing f4ckocrats? You have some balls sitting there at your jobs-for-life complaining that you haven't sufficiently raped the American taxpayer.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 3, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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