Put down that coffee or soda before reading the latest of the massive and growing gap between public and private sector compensation:
Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.
Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.
The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.
But wait, there's more:
What the data show:
•Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government's contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.
•Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.
•Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.
The article notes that defenders of federal pay levels argue that public employers tend to have more education than their private sector counterparts. Which, as much as anything, probably reflects credentialism run amok as a demonstrated need for specialized skills.
When federal workers' average annual benefits comes close to as much as many people make in straight salary, well, that ain't right. And it's not only economically unsustainable, it's politically poisonous as well. Folks ranging from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Willie Brown have pointed out that massive public employee labor costs are simply out of control. In a world in which, rightly or wrongly (I think mostly rightly), private sector workers are fending more and more form themselves, nobody is going to go gentle into that good night as tax-supported workers get more money, hugely better benefits, absolute job security, and better retirement set-ups.
Lots of previous posts on the coming war between public and private sector workers.