Bucking conventional wisdom, a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office suggests that federal government employees earn more than their private sector counterparts of equal or similar education levels. According to the CBO, federal workers earn on average $52.50 per hour, while employees in the private sector earn $45.40. The exception is workers with PhDs, who earn more in the private sector than in government. Those at the other end of the educational spectrum—workers with only high school degrees—earn 36 percent more working for the federal government than they would in a non-government job. It should be noted that most of the difference between public and private employees is due to the benefits government workers receive, such as healthcare and pensions. If those benefits are removed from the equation, the average federal employee earns only 2 percent more than the average non-government worker.
It had long been thought that federal employees sacrificed supposedly higher private sector pay for the job security that comes with working for the government, with some arguing that higher wages were needed for government jobs to attract the best and the brightest. Conservative budget hawks will no doubt use the report as proof that the federal government has become too bloated. Meanwhile, President Obama has proposed a half percentage point increase in federal pay in 2013 after a two year wage freeze.
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Previously: Should Mitt Romney Withdraw His Tom Brokaw Ad?