Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The President's Pay Freeze - a small step

The President's proposal for freezing pay for federal workers for the next two years, which would save about $6 billion over the term of the freeze, is welcome.   Average federal pay has been growing in recent years and now is north of $82,000 per year.  That of course does not include the dough that employees get in benefits.   That salary level compares to the median household income in the country in 2009 of about $50,000.  So you can get an idea about how generous we are with those employees.

A lot of recent studies have pointed out that federal pay is considerably higher than the private sector.  And friends of public employees have argued that those reports are flawed because they do not control for the level of education required.  After all the federal government employs a lot of scientists, and engineers and lawyers.  The Federal Times, in a recent article said 45% of federal employees have a college degree. That is about half again as many in the private sector.  That may be another point (do we really need all those highly educated people running our lives? Is the work of government so technical that it requires that level of education? Or more appropriately should it be?).   But that argument is for another day.

On this one look at the impact of the President's proposal on the deficit.  Can't see it?  That is the point.  In addition to the freeze on pay he should be seriously thinking about reducing the number of employees.  When Washington begins to feel this recession, we will know they have begun to understand it a bit better.

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