Public v. private sector salaries

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The gap for compensation between federal and private sector workers has doubled in the past nine years, with federal employees being awarded larger pay and benefits increases than those in the private sector.[1]

Federal employees earned on average, between pay and benefits, $123,049 in 2009, while private workers made $61,051.[1] According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, federal employees earned $30,415 more than private sector jobs in 2000, but this increased to $61,998 in 2009:[1] Federal pay has increased 33 percent faster than inflation since 2000.

In August 2010, President Obama ordered a freeze on bonuses for 2,900 political appointees, and gave a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise in 2011 for the rest of the federal workforce, the smallest raise in more than a decade.[1]


Difference in pay between federal and private sectors[1]
Job Federal Private Difference
Airline pilot, copilot, flight engineer $93,690 $120,012 -$26,322
Broadcast technician $90,310 $49,265 $41,045
Budget analyst $73,140 $65,532 $7,608
Chemist $98,060 $72,120 $25,940
Civil Engineer $85,970 $76,184 $9,786
Clergy $70,460 $39,247 $31,213
Computer, information systems manager $122,020 $115,705 $6,315
Computer support specialist $45,830 $54,875 -$9,045
Cook $38,400 $23,279 $15,121
Crane, tower operator $54,900 $44,044 $10,856
Dental Assistant $36,170 $32,069 $4,101
Economist $101,020 $91,065 $9,955
Editors $42,210 $54,803 -$12,593
Electrical engineer $86,400 $84,653 $1,747
Financial analyst $87,400 $81,232 $6,168
Graphic designer $70,820 $46,585 $24,255
Highway maintenance worker $42,720 $31,376 $11,344
Laundry $33,100 $19,945 $13,155
Lawyer $123,660 $126,763 -$3,103
Librarian $76,110 $63,125 $12,826
Locomotive engineer $48,440 $63,125 -$14,685
Machinist $51,530 $44,315 $7,215
Office Clerk $34,260 $29,863 $4,397
Optometrist $61,530 $106,665 -$45,135
Paralegal $60,340 $48,890 $11,450
Pest Control $48,670 $33,675 $14,995
Physicians, surgeons $176,050 $177,102 -$1,052
Physician assistant $77,770 $87,783 -$10,013
Procurement clerk $40,640 $34,082 $6,558
Public relations manager $132,410 $88,241 $44,169
Recreation worker $43,630 $21,671 $21,959
Registered nurse $74,460 $63,780 $10,680
Respiratory therapist $46,740 $50,433 -$3,703
Secretary $44,500 $33,629 $10,671
Sheet metal worker $88,520 $78,065 $10,455
Statistician $88,520 $78,065 $10,455
Surveyor $78,710 $67,336 $11,374

State and local government employees make more than employees in the private sector by the hour.[2]

Average hourly wage
Compensation A. State and local B. Private sector Ratio A/B
Total compensation $39.66 $27.42 1.45
Wages and salaries 26.01 19.39 1.34
Benefits 13.65 8.02 1.70
Paid leave 3.27 1.85 1.77
Supplemental pay 0.34 0.83 0.41
Health insurance 4.34 1.99 2.18
Defined-benefit pension 2.85 0.41 6.95
Defined-contribution pension 0.31 0.53 0.58
Other benefits 2.53 2.40 1.05


Difference by region[3]
Region Federal hourly wage Private sector hourly wage Union presence
Pacific $49.02 $30.70 64%
Middle Atlantic $48.53 $31.69 67%
New England $43.22 $33.29 57%
East North Central $43.00 $26.72 47%
Mountain $36.14 $26.18 21%
South Atlantic $34.90 $25.33 18%
East South Central $32.14 $20.76 16%
West North Central $32.00 $25.35 26%
West South Central $30.73 $24.35 13%




References