We have all seen news reports
about the often exorbitant salaries of government employees as compared to the earnings
of folks in equivalent private sector jobs. According to a March 2012 report by
of Labor Statistics, the average total compensation for the average private
industry worker was $28.57 per hour worked whereas for the federal government worker
it was $40.90 per hour - a 43% difference! When you look at the ranges of job titles
and pay for government workers as compared to equivalent private industry workers
there seems to be no logical correlation between which jobs pay more with the government
versus private industry. There are currently about 22 million
employees - a staggering number indeed.
Asbury Park Press (APP.com)
recently made available a database of year-2011 earnings for government employees,
searchable by department/agency, division, job title, location, and even employee
name. If you know someone who works for the government, this is your chance to find
out how much they make. I wanted to find out what people in technical agencies were
making, so I concentrated on organizations like the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute
of Standards (NIST), etc. The results are in the table below where I counted people
whose base salaries are at or above $100,000 per year. It took a lot more time than
I really had to spend on it, but after a while it gets addictive.
to keep in mind is that government agencies are notoriously top-heavy in management,
which tends to push the pay scale upward. Looking at the filtered results bears
out that fact since it reveals that most top earners are in management positions.
Also, I don't know about the social and financial type agencies, but the government
employs a lot of Ph.D.s for science and engineering, so that also biases the pay
upward. As an avid reader of technical publications, I can vouch for a lot of extremely
high quality research and development performed by the good folks at NASA, NIST,
et al. Private industry, under pressure from investors to turn profits at the expense
of performing vital in-house R&D, has seen a dramatic reduction in staff dedicated
to pure research. So this is one area where, even though I am basically a small-government
person, I am glad to see some of our best and brightest being gainfully employed
for the good of the country. In order to attract top talent into the positions,
it is necessary to pay at a level commensurate with private industry.
I detest is the number of people in social welfare and arts departments (typically
slackers) making the same kind of pay as guys and gals actually producing useful
information that will pay benefits down the road. That's not to say all of the former
are lame-oids and all of the latter are alphas, but where are you most likely to
see a government employee playing Solitaire on the computer - in a social services
office or in a research lab? Oh, there is also a huge percentage of lawyers throughout
all the government agencies. In which category would you tend to place them?
When the database is sorted according to salary, department heads bubble to
the top - no surprise. It is the same as in private industry. I did find instances
of people with engineering titles within the top ten positions for various agencies,
but they tended to be not in places like NASA or the FCC, but in the Department
of Health and Human Services; don't even try to make sense of it. Also no surprise
is that it looks like the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas have the
largest concentration of high earners. It is why that area of the country has some
of the highest average household income zip codes and why the unemployment rate
is so low locally. A few weeks ago Melanie and I went to my uncle's burial ceremony
at Arlington National Cemetery and noted all the huge new buildings - all most all
government - under construction. It's no wonder the cursed politicians don't seem
to feel any urgency when it comes to the economy. From where they live, everything
looks just fine.
A government job looks like good work if you can get it. Take the
database for a test drive yourself and, if you have the stomach for it, look
up what people in your most-despised government agencies are getting paid with your
hard-earned tax money.
Hank Terlage (ostensibly), the guy in the now-famous
video below, appears to have a base salary of $47,677. Well, he formerly had a salary
of that amount. You won't find his name in the 2012 database because he has been
fired. Not to worry, though, because Hawaii pays a tidy sum for unemployment and/or
welfare. Throw in an EBT card (food stamps and other goodies), free medical care,
maybe some free training if he wants it, who knows what else, and unemployment can
be a pretty sweet deal. Maybe he can pursue a career in music. GSA manager
Jeff[rey] Neely (ostensibly), who was responsible for the infamous
Hawaiian vacation for department heads, made $172,000 in 2011 and even earned a
$2,700 award for a job well done. You won't find him the the 2012 database, either.
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