Despite Job Security, Federal Workers Gripe About Pay

New survey also shows job satisfaction below private sector.

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Some federal workers just can't be pleased. Despite avoiding the massive layoffs, pay cuts, and harsh benefit reductions suffered by private sector workers, Uncle Sam's workforce is less satisfied with their pay than last year and generally less satisfied with their jobs than nonfederal workers, according to an Obama administration new survey.

In the new Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, a minority of bureaucrats said they are satisfied with their bosses and believe they have the opportunity to get a better job.

[See who will benefit from the slowing economy.]

But not all of the news is bad. "One clear finding: federal employees continue to be dedicated to their jobs and to accomplishing their missions. Employees are willing to give extra effort, are looking for ways to do their jobs better, and believe their work is important," said Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry.

Unlike private employers and state and local governments, the Obama administration has not responded to the mounting deficit and sinking economy with job cuts. The administration did levy a pay freeze, but it did not freeze pay increases called for in union contracts or limit the check-fattening "step increases" employees are eligible for. Currently, 459,016 of the government's 2.14 million workers make at least $100,000 in average base salary, according to OPM. [See political cartoons about the economy.]

Still, the employee survey logged a decrease in pay satisfaction. While 65.8 of the federal workforce said last year that they were satisfied with their pay, this year it dropped to 62. 5 percent with just 18.3 percent saying that they are "very satisfied" with their pay check. Nearly 6 percent of the 253,704 employees who answered the survey said that they are "very dissatisfied" with their pay. [Check out the new U.S. News Weekly iPad app.]

When compared to the views of workers in the private sector federal workers aren't as satisfied in many areas either. While there is parity in job satisfaction, federal workers, for example, feel that they aren't as challenged to do things better than private workers. And less federal workers are satisfied with their organization than are private workers.

As for which departments have the happiest employees, State led among the biggest cabinet departments. According to the OPM, the top 10 agencies with the higest job satisfaction are:

1. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

3. Department of State

4. Social Security Administration

5. Federal Trade Commission

6. National Credit Union Administration

7. Office of Personnel Management

8. Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency

9. Department of Justice

10. Department of the Treasury

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  • See editorial cartoons about the budget and deficit.