House to Vote to Freeze Federal Worker Pay

Kevin Glass

2/15/2013 9:29:00 AM - Kevin Glass

The House of Representatives today will vote to freeze the pay of federal employees, which would extend a policy that President Obama wants to put to an end. Obama is seeking a pay increase for federal workers.

 

The GOP-led House is expected to pass the bill on Friday, but it's likely to receive a cold reception in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Budget hawks, in supporting the freeze, say the average federal worker compensation, including benefits, is nearly double the median U.S. household income. They point to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office study showing that, while wages are similar for federal workers and comparable private sector workers, federal workers on the whole had more generous benefit packages. Overall, it said, total compensation is 16 percent higher in the public sector.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee cited figures showing that, with merit-based raises and other "step" increases, the median pay for a federal employee in September last year was $72,714, up more than $3,000 from two years earlier.

Andrew Biggs at the American Enterprise Institute has written about how, in general, federal workers are incredibly well-compensated compared to their private-sector peers:

 

1. Underpaid? The claim that federal employees are underpaid by more than 20% versus private sector workers are highly misleading, ignoring both fringe benefits and the relative skills of federal and private workers. (link)

2.  Higher Salaries and Benefits: Most independent analyses of federal employee pay – including from AEI and the Congressional Budget Office – find that federal employees receive higher salaries and benefits and similar private sector workers.

3.  Go Private, Get Less: Most federal workers who leave for private sector jobs don’t get a pay increase – they accept a salary cut. (link)

4.  Salaries Rising: Since 2007 federal employee salaries have risen by an average of 15%, while private sector salaries have risen by only 10%. The idea that federal workers are falling behind the private sector isn’t correct. (link)