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A Closer gap Between Public and Private Sector than Appears?
Old 04-30-2010, 11:28 AM   #1
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A Closer gap Between Public and Private Sector than Appears?

At least it appears in some fed jobs that could be the case, not sure about local or state or county..........

Want to get rich? Work for feds | Washington Examiner
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:39 PM   #2
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Lots of articles doing fed bashing. I am worried I won't get a raise next year! Or get a pay cut.

I work in IT and I still say federal IT pay is lower than private sector. If I factor in future pension bennies, it may even out. But with all the fed bashing, who knows what the pension will look like!
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:28 PM   #3
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Here is the federal jobs website where you can search for the job you want:

USAJOBS - The Federal Government's Official Jobs Site

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Old 04-30-2010, 06:34 PM   #4
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Here's a good paper from Cato that I quoted in another thread a few weeks ago. More information than you want to know. http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-59.pdf
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:52 PM   #5
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At least it appears in some fed jobs that could be the case, not sure about local or state or county..........

Want to get rich? Work for feds | Washington Examiner
There are way too many current and former federal workers in this forum, for me to go after this sacred cow.

FD, you know lots of these guys have the power to tax you, or arrest you. Some of them even have access to black helicopters and NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

tread carefully my friend.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:00 PM   #6
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There are way too many current and former federal workers in this forum, for me to go after this sacred cow.

FD, you know lots of these guys have the power to tax you, or arrest you. Some of them even have access to black helicopters and NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

tread carefully my friend.
Not the retired ones. Have to give up all that awsome power when retired.

I'll only say this - the Wash Examiner is avery far right paper owned by the Rev Sun Moon.

And where's my money? I seem to have missed that gravy train.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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At least it appears in some fed jobs that could be the case, not sure about local or state or county.........
I have a tough time reading articles that use the word "average" where a more appropriate analysis would be "median". A few high-paid employees in either category can skew the results, sort of like including the CEO's salary & benefits into the rank&file employee database.

But hey, if the govt is paying so much, isn't it worth wondering why they're being so good to their employees? If they have to pay them twice as much as "civilians" to get them into the civil service, then how bad must it really be?!?
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:15 PM   #8
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I have a tough time reading articles that use the word "average" where a more appropriate analysis would be "median".
Agreed. That was my first thought -- "median" would be a much better metric than "average" here. I would suspect the private sector has many more outliers on the "upside" (CEOs and other executives) and on the downside (burger flippers et al).

A median would give a better idea what a fairly typical middle-class employee would earn.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:35 PM   #9
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Not the retired ones. Have to give up all that awsome power when retired.

I'll only say this - the Wash Examiner is avery far right paper owned by the Rev Sun Moon.

And where's my money? I seem to have missed that gravy train.

You're mistaking the Examiner with the Times, which IS a very far right newspaper owned by Rev. Moon. The Examiner, on the other hand, is a far right free newspaper owned by Philip Anschutz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Old 05-01-2010, 06:57 AM   #10
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I believe that with government jobs the compensation comparison depends heavily on the job.

I'm familiar mostly with salaries for software developers. I do occasionally glance at listings for govt, so can so with some confidence that there is a salary difference between gov/priv that's large enough to be quite significant over a 35 year career. I've not done the math on whether the additional income after taxes saved at a reasonable rate of return gives an advantage over govt pension during endgame.

Other jobs there is no question the govt job is the better deal. My wife works for the city and there are administrative assistants there who started at age 19 who are now in their mid 30s and maxed out on their job's payscale (making $50kish) and will retire with full pension and health bennies at age 50. Nice.
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:08 AM   #11
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I don't have a problem with the pay scale. The issues that I saw in my brief tenure as a civil servant and my 20 plus years in the military were: 1) how many civil servants cram 1 or 2 hours of work into an 8 hr day? 2) how many civil servants jobs exists only to justify a higher pay grade for their immediate or next level boss? and the similar 3)how many civil servant jobs exist only because of the pay grade/rank of their organizations boss? and the famous 4) the position is needed in case we ever need him/her to do something.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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I'm familiar mostly with salaries for software developers. I do occasionally glance at listings for govt, so can so with some confidence that there is a salary difference between gov/priv that's large enough to be quite significant over a 35 year career. I've not done the math on whether the additional income after taxes saved at a reasonable rate of return gives an advantage over govt pension during endgame.

Other jobs there is no question the govt job is the better deal. My wife works for the city and there are administrative assistants there who started at age 19 who are now in their mid 30s and maxed out on their job's payscale (making $50kish) and will retire with full pension and health bennies at age 50. Nice.
My observation is that the scientific/engineering in the public sector doesn't have pay that significantly exceeds the private sector, but clerical/admin positions do. I think government pay scales sometimes tend to look more at just the level of education and experience than what the private sector would pay for a particular skill or field.
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Old 05-02-2010, 02:23 PM   #13
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One thing that occurred to me the other day while thinking on all these articles.
What is the affect of security clearances on compensation? Most of the people I work with need at least a secret clearance. I need one for my IT job.

How many applicants do you think could pass a background check and get a security clearance? We have had a bunch this year revoked due to debt or DUI.

I guess I'm looking for ammo so I can post that gov't employees are not overpaid in a lot of jobs due to education, experience and security considerations.
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Old 05-02-2010, 04:03 PM   #14
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Bimmerbill, it's always going to be apples and oranges. If I compare my government classification to the average person with my degree and years of experience, the full performance level of my profession in my locality of the federal government pays about 25% less. I'm in the DC locality so if I were to use RUS, the comparison is even larger but is not much better since the number I am using is the private industry data from my professional society and is an average for the entire US. (I don't know how to compare things but full performance level is really all I have.)

I can claim based on the professional society data that people in my profession working for the government reach a number of years experience where the government person makes less than even University professors. But University Professors do something different from what I myself do.

Many of the people I knew in industry have had a hard time despite their PhDs. Their companies have down-sized, merged, laid-off, etc. Some actually ended up giving up those salaries and going government.

Of course, by going management in the federal government, one can earn even more but not always stay in the same profession. I don't know where this factors into the numbers. But I do know that most managers in the federal government make more than most professionals but less than their counterparts in industry and many of these are responsible for multi- million or billion dollar programs.

What I don't understand is why in good times government people whine about their private counterparts and in bad times private workers whine about government counterparts.

The two jobs, private vs public, are often too different to price by comparision. So what is the fair price? For that matter, what is the fair price in the local market? Some local markets don't even have private jobs in my profession and some have lots; some have small business equivalents and some areas have Fortune 500 equivalent jobs.

That is why it seems to me that people just whine about, well, nonsense. The government makes the deal with me and I take the deal in good faith. Same happens in the private sector. If I am smart I measure my risk tolerance and either take that risk in the new Pharma startup that might have the next cure for cancer or I take my risk with the federal government where I might not make a lot of dough but I am not likely to end up with nothing.

If we were talking stock investment and stock risk we would be making a similar point to someone who took the higher risk going for the big money and lost the risk game. The government worker is like the guy who had a conservative portfolio; no big bonuses but less risk. So he didn't lose as much in the crash, does that mean he has to give up what he does have to make the rest of the market whole?

Government jobs and their full performance levels are well defined. Here is some stats on government raises since 1969. It's a year by year comparision of cpi, private wage increase, retiree cola and federal raises. Because the indexes don't show the picture, study the line items. The private/public advantage bobbles. With that warning about the 2009 vs 1969 data the summary is below. Table 1 in the pdf with the year by year is found at:
http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/94-971_20100120.pdf

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At year-end 2009, the overall price level as measured by the CPI was 477% higher than it was in 1969. As of January 2010, Social Security benefits have risen by 626% since 1969, and federal civil service retirement benefits have risen by 496%. Average wages among all workers in the economy have risen by 632% since 1969. Salaries for civilian federal employees have increased by 428% since 1969, and the salaries of Members of Congress have increased by 309%. This report is updated annually.
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Old 05-02-2010, 04:27 PM   #15
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I guess I'm looking for ammo so I can post that gov't employees are not overpaid in a lot of jobs due to education, experience and security considerations.
For a start, have a look at: National Institute on Retirement - Out of Balance?. A pdf of the entire report can be downloaded via a link near the bottom of the page. Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and education level-adjusted, this study provides a counter-point to the viewpoint that government compensation is overly generous. Limited to state and local government vis a vis private sector employment. Maybe working for the gummint (state & local, anyway) ain't so cushy.
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:58 PM   #16
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One thing that occurred to me the other day while thinking on all these articles.
What is the affect of security clearances on compensation? Most of the people I work with need at least a secret clearance. I need one for my IT job.

How many applicants do you think could pass a background check and get a security clearance? We have had a bunch this year revoked due to debt or DUI.

I guess I'm looking for ammo so I can post that gov't employees are not overpaid in a lot of jobs due to education, experience and security considerations.


I was curious how many of the jobs are in the DC area and if this has any effect. The DC area (Northern Virginia, Maryland) has a relatively high cost of living and could skew the results.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:57 PM   #17
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Locality pay is pretty significant. I fall into the "Boston" region, and it is one of the higher locality pay areas in the US. Of course, it is expensive to live here, which I guess is the point!

I think there is a big population of higher paid fed employees in DC. Lots of HQ and HQ executives there.
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