The rich (bureaucrats) keep getting richer

posted at 9:30 am on December 11, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When I worked in the security industry, we used to consider it one of the few recession-proof industries, assuming that when times got tough, people would be more inclined to add security.  It didn’t work that way in practice, because there really aren’t any recession-proof industries, just recession-resistant industries … except one.  USA Today reports that federal salaries have increased rapidly during the recession, leading to an explosion of six-figure salaries in the public sector:

The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

Bureaucracy is the real recession-proof industry.  The numbers are mind-boggling.  In 18 months, the number of federal employees making over $100K have increased 46%.  The number making over $150K has more than doubled.

It’s not as if they’ve been asked to do more with less, either.  In the first six months of the year, the federal government was adding 10,000 jobs per month, and over the recession had grown the ranks of bureaucrats by 9.8%.  The private sector, during that same period, shed 7.3 million jobs to contract 6.3%.

Here’s the fun fact of the day from USA Today:

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

Got that?  Seventeen hundred employees at DoT make $170,000 per year.  Eighteen months ago, there was one.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says that “There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous,” and he’s right.  The pay raises are astronomical, averaging 6.6% during one of the worst recessions in decades, while at the same time hiring like crazy.  Where are all these employees going, and what are they doing?

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

I guess it pays more to have a job spending money than earning it.
The end game is going to be very very scary indeed.

JeffinOrlando on December 11, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Change we can believe in.

barnone on December 11, 2009 at 11:43 AM

So THIS is the “adding new jobs” thing that Obama meant! I guess that is one thing he has actually accomplished.

SWChance on December 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM

This is a fake analysis, or at the least it significantly understates their true income. In the private sector, we all save for retirement and, often, our current and future health care costs from our W-2 income. Much of our savings for these purposes come from after tax income. Not so with public employees, whose retirement income and health monies never see a W-2. Those “benefits” are entirely separate from stated income and effectively make these people millionaires.

I don’t know how federal employees are pensioned, but in my small town (25,000 people) the 48 year old police chief recently “retired”, after 26 years with our 12 man force. He retired at a 80% of the average of his three highest paid years, to be adjusted in the future for inflation. He received lifetime medical care for him and his “dependents”. His annual payout begins at $105,000 in pension money. At a 5% yield, anyone else would have had to save $2,100,000 in after tax savings to earn that same amount. At a combined tax rate of 40% he would have had to earn $3.5 million to have that savings. But he didn’t. The “income” was never “earned”, and taxes were never paid. His lifetime health care is probably worth a similar present value. He made over $7 million, in this example, and the W-2 income saw none of that. The federal bureaucrats highlighted in this post are all millionaires, every single one of them. And you paid for it.

MTF on December 11, 2009 at 11:47 AM

…postal monkey…?!

Don’t get all ad hominem with me because I called you out on embellishing your story to slander a postal worker.

Funny how the story has changed now. It’s gone from some window clerk just screwing off to a window clerk processing a customer’s mail.

You said there were four windows, but only one occupied. Wonder why that is? In my office, we’re supposed to have 7 full time clerks and one part time clerk. With three of those dedicated to mail handling duties in the back of the office. We currently have 4 clerks total. Three of them have to do double duty mail handling in the back. That’s because the P.O. is deliberately understaffing offices to save money.

Would you rather that window clerk have skipped processing that customer’s mail to get to the cranky guy at the back of the line? Did the customer want a record of the receiving scans for some reason?

Don’t be so quick to jump to a negative conclusion based on bias or no information.

postaldog on December 11, 2009 at 11:54 AM

I couldn’t give two flying sh*ts about whether it’s “expensive” to live in DC. It’s expensive to live in many other places, too.
DON’T LIVE THERE.
Good Lt on December 11, 2009 at 9:54 AM

My point was that while 100K is a lot of cash in most places that does not hold true for DC. Further as I pointed out there is a greater concentration of people with advanced degress and one has to pay for that education (not saying their good or productive just educated) and lastly what do you do about the military, we get ordered to locations so “DON’T LIVE THERE” is not really an option.
Yes the expansion of over 100k is a concern, but there is also an apples and oranges comparison going on to make headlines.

LincolntheHun on December 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM

I hope you are right. Defined benefit retirement plans bankrupt the entities that offer them.

WashJeff on December 11, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Well I hope you’re wrong since I’m retired and get a large chunk of income from a defined benefit retirement plan :-) I check the income tax report at least once a year. Last time I checked, earlier this year, our plan was 20% OVERfunded. We also had a 401K program. Mine is presently just sitting where I rolled it.

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 11:58 AM

How wonderful. Plus, they’re exempt from the communist health care Obama wants to kill us off with.

darwin on December 11, 2009 at 9:57 AM

Not only that, but the assorted “health-care bills” floating
promise to grow the government bureaucracy multi-fold, if John Boehner’s chart is to be understood.

The “progressives” are determined to make all health-care professionals, including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, etc., employees of the State. Our state-of-the-art health-care system will become a memory when that sorry outcome is realized.

The only “jobs” that ObaMao promises to create or save are government jobs.

onlineanalyst on December 11, 2009 at 12:07 PM

MTF on December 11, 2009 at 11:47 AM

And the three highest years are created by not using the incredible amount of vacation, then applying it to overtime, then pushing “overtime”…it is not unusual, with some fancy paperwork, to actually retire with close to 100% of their actual salary…along with lifetime medical…and if they were ever “injured” on the job, like a “bad back”, then they get additional compensation…

right2bright on December 11, 2009 at 12:10 PM

I check the income tax report at least once a year. Last time I checked, earlier this year, our plan was 20% OVERfunded. We also had a 401K program. Mine is presently just sitting where I rolled it.

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Lucky you, but I believe it is inevitable that any defined benefit plan will go bankrupt, it is just a matter of time. Sounds like yours has a long time frame. Any entity that offers its new hires a defined benefit retirement plan is just plan stupid. Pay your employees what they are worth today. When they are no longer employees, they are fully off the books.

WashJeff on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Yes the expansion of over 100k is a concern, but there is also an apples and oranges comparison going on to make headlines.

LincolntheHun on December 11, 2009 at 11:57 AM

The suburbs of D.C. are quite affordable, sorry but you don’t have to live “in town”…Fredicksburg has very average housing cost for example.

right2bright on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

In other news, the pay czar will contoll the fees charged by DC madams.

Fuquay Steve on December 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Yay for exploring a narrative without examing the practicalities of that narrative.

Tell me, Ed. Assuming you need a certain level of government employees, which kind of person would you rather have working in government:

A) the kind of person who will come work for a good salary because they find that salary compelling vs. the responsibilities of the job

or

B) the kind of person who will deal with the low salary because they know it’ll be harder to fire them.

There really should be a lot fewer government employees, but we should compensate the ones that we do have pretty well. If you look at things like level of responsibility, a lot of government salaries do not compare very favorably, which is why we get so many crappy government employees. It takes a lot of stupid people to do the work one smart person could do (and do better).

When it comes to personnel, you get what you pay for. This broad “high government salaries BAD!” rant wasn’t well thought out. It’s superficial red meat.

I guess it’s par for a political blog, but I still find it disappointing.

TheUnrepentantGeek on December 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM

I’m sure we could expect the same sort of behavior if government takes over the health/insurance industry – ever expanding bureaucracies which are immune to economic realities.

This also shows what a big lie the concept of the government ‘just providing some competition’ to insurance companies is. A government bureaucracy plays be a completely different set of rules than the private sector does and will never be beholden to the same pressures or realities. If any company ran itself as the federal government does it would go bankrupt quickly.

gwelf on December 11, 2009 at 12:28 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on December 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM

You do have a point but it doesn’t negate Ed’s – if a higher salary is attracting a better employee that makes several others obsolete then we should have seen a drop in number of employees not a rise. Also, nepotism and favors probably has more to do with getting a high paying government job than competency somewhat negating your argument about higher pay attracting a more qualified employee.

I think Ed’s point is mostly that this is occurring in the context of most industries shedding employees and asking those remaining to work for less.

Ed also didn’t mention that the ‘jobs czar’ is deciding how much employees at banks can make.

gwelf on December 11, 2009 at 12:32 PM

The suburbs of D.C. are quite affordable, sorry but you don’t have to live “in town”…Fredicksburg has very average housing cost for example.

F’burg to D.C.: Fifty hellish miles during rush hour each way along I-95. Affordale homes, yes, but you won’t be able to spend any time there. Charles Town, WV is only a little further away from D.C. than F’burg.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 12:36 PM

The suburbs of D.C. are quite affordable, sorry but you don’t have to live “in town”…Fredicksburg has very average housing cost for example.

right2bright on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

I checked prices there, not what I would call affordable.

LincolntheHun on December 11, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I’ve thought of getting a govt job. But even if they paid me $250K I don’t think I could do it. Sit around for 8 hours a day watching the clock. Repeat for 25 years. No amount of money and benefits is worth that kind of boredom.

angryed on December 11, 2009 at 12:49 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on December 11, 2009 at 12:15 PM

$170K a year for a clerk? Give me a freaking break.

angryed on December 11, 2009 at 12:50 PM

I’ve thought of getting a govt job. But even if they paid me $250K I don’t think I could do it. Sit around for 8 hours a day watching the clock. Repeat for 25 years. No amount of money and benefits is worth that kind of boredom.

angryed on December 11, 2009 at 12:49 PM

If that’s all you’re qualified to do, I feel sorry for you. You should have gone to college or learned a trade or something.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 12:54 PM

If that’s all you’re qualified to do, I feel sorry for you. You should have gone to college or learned a trade or something.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 12:54 PM

I did go to college, got one of them fancy degrees and one them even fancier masters too. But no matter the education, as a govt employee my biggest decision of the day would be which donut to get from the break room….sprinkle or no sprinkle…then back to sitting in a cube wasting away the day.

I’ve never done any work for the feds, but I’ve worked a few contracts for state governments. Getting anything done was impossible. It was the ultimate “not my department” mentality. Can’t complain since I bill by the hour, but it was mind numbing to be involved in that environment.

And as for the level of intelligence I encountered….let’s just say I don’t think Mensa will be sending too many invitations to that group.

angryed on December 11, 2009 at 12:58 PM

The suburbs of D.C. are quite affordable, sorry but you don’t have to live “in town”…Fredicksburg has very average housing cost for example.

right2bright on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Wouldn’t characterize The Burg as a suburb of D.C. It’s a 50+ mile commute at best. Thousands of people do it though. Not sure what you call very average either but if you come to The Burg looking for a house I have three bits of advice for you “Bring Money.” If you plan on moving a little further North “Bring more money.” If you want to increase your already too long commute and go a little further South “Bring a little less money.”

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 1:04 PM

Save a few rational responses, I don’t think I have ever been this disappointed with this community. I am a government employee and 95% of these comments have very little basis in reality.

I’m just going to consider this an aberration and move on. Everybody Brain Farts sometimes.

dvldog1142 on December 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM

If that’s all you’re qualified to do, I feel sorry for you. You should have gone to college or learned a trade or something.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 12:54 PM

It wouldn’t matter now. My brand-new degree in computer repair is peanuts compared to the qualifications of the experts who’ve been displaced by Turd-World job exporting and an ailing economy. Some of those people have been working with computers ever since the days of vacuum tubes and punch cards.

All the experience and eduction in the world won’t help anymore. It really is down to knowing the right people – and even that’s no longer a guarantee. Having a good friend in the field is no good if the company they work for can’t afford to hire anyone.

Dark-Star on December 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM

dvldog1142 on December 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM

I note with great amusement that the most successful workplace comics have been the ones lampooning private businesses.

Dark-Star on December 11, 2009 at 1:08 PM

F’burg to D.C.: Fifty hellish miles during rush hour each way along I-95. Affordale homes, yes, but you won’t be able to spend any time there. Charles Town, WV is only a little further away from D.C. than F’burg.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 12:36 PM

People that don’t live in this area cannot possibly understand your post. I would rather commute from Fredericksburg to Chalestown WV than D.C.

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 1:11 PM

And the indignities keep on rollin’ in…

ya2daup on December 11, 2009 at 1:15 PM

My PostOffice is staffed by a bunch of incompetents. It took 3 months for me to get my mail, after I bought a house in a new neighborhood. There have been very important documents not forwarded. I had to go to an old Apartment address of mine and ask politely of the new tenant to hand over all the mail the post office had been sending him, of mine, for the last 3 months. Luckily he was slovenly and hadn’t thrown it out.

I consistently get mail from other addresses in my box…

I called the 1800 number for the postoffice to complain. Never heard anything back.

is this where our healthcare is going!!?

James on December 11, 2009 at 1:17 PM

People that don’t live in this area cannot possibly understand your post. I would rather commute from Fredericksburg to Chalestown WV than D.C.

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 1:11 PM

My point was that some towns in West Virginia are about as close to D.C. as what some people consider a prime affordable D.C. suburb. And yes, people do take advantage of the lower cost of living in WV and commute from there.

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 1:23 PM

When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

anyone know if “cash for clunkers” hiring is related to this?

i’m an expat living in germany, and i get most of my news from hotair, ace, nro, weekly standard, and spectator.

i can’t even put into english how much this disgusts me. “es kotzt mich an!!”

photoboy74 on December 11, 2009 at 2:13 PM

It took 3 months for me to get my mail, after I bought a house in a new neighborhood.
James on December 11, 2009 at 1:17 PM

You waited three months for mail that was supposedly important, before doing anything about it? Did you try contacting you local office or carrier about the problem? Did you put in a change of address when you left?

The mail with other names on it, does is also say or current resident? We have to deliver that stuff under regulations. Do you have your name in your mailbox at your new residence? Did you talk to your letter carrier about this?

There could be a lot more at play here than your simplistic insult of incompetence.

postaldog on December 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Says the Congresscritter making $174,900 plus platinum bennies…

Flyover Country

I don’t have a problem with the 535 members of Congress making $174K/yr. They definitely have a responsible job. Now compare that to the 380,000 Federal employees who make over $100K/year. If you read the article, the DOD alone has over 10,000 employees making over $150K.

With salary and benefits the average federal worker makes twice what private sector employees earn.

BTW, since a majority of government workers are female, the increased public sector hiring is exacerbating what is being called the mancession or hecession.

rokemronnie on December 11, 2009 at 2:21 PM

RayinVA on December 11, 2009 at 1:23 PM

I understood your post and I know the difference between Charles Town and Charlestown. I’d still rather commute to Charlestown than D.C. I’ve made that run a few time during rush hour and it’s never been pleasant. It’s now downright painful. I live just off Rt.3 about 3 miles from the I-95 ramps. I won’t even get on 95 to go to the Southside around rush hour, I’ll take backroads.

Oldnuke on December 11, 2009 at 2:53 PM

BOHICA

The Ugly American on December 11, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Ugh, I really thought this was a nightmare because I passed out halfway through this story on Fox earlier and then dreamed that I went to Washington to try to get a job and was locked out by security guards, etc.

Anyway, a bit off topic, but perhaps a wake-up call for some of you who may simply think Obama is just stupid or wrong… instead of the evil anti-American socialist that he is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jl8lrm_VsQ

Since 1900, the percentage of POTUS cabinet appointees who’ve had previous PRIVATE SECTOR experience has been between roughly 30%-50%, usually on the higher end.

Under Obama? LESS THAN 10%

Please tell me that none of you out there are still stupid enough to believe he’s just some dumb amateur, and “wrong once again”. When do his actions and associations begin to tell us something about the man?

RightWinged on December 11, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Okay, I’m so in the wrong line of work.

I want in on this cushy, recession-proof industry. And once I’m there, I’ll make even more money with my line of infomercials which (for only 999 payments of $2 each) I’ll share my secrets of cashing in on a Big Gummint Career!

Yep… that’s what I’m gonna do…

Paul_in_NJ on December 11, 2009 at 4:14 PM

es kotzt mich an!

I like it. What would be the literal translation, please?

Paul_in_NJ on December 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Johnnyreb on December 11, 2009 at 9:55 AM

I stand corrected. Thank you.

oldleprechaun on December 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM

postaldog on December 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM

If the shoe doesn’t fit, congratulations and thanks for your civil service. Please realize it is not an aberration for many people to continually have problems with the Post Office and many other state run operations. Fortunately, some of our public officials have allowed competition in areas of business once monopolized by Government. And technology even allows us to purchase our postage without entering a post office. If you are one of the many who find continual disappointment and frustration with the post offices in your area, you have options, and wouldn’t we all agree that competition is a good thing?

Red State State of Mind on December 11, 2009 at 7:46 PM

Red State State of Mind on December 11, 2009 at 7:46 PM

I have no problem with competition, it helps the USPS, UPS, and FedEx up their games to the benefit of all customers.

What I have a problem with is the relentless degredation of the thousands of hard working people at the post office simply because it is a government agency. I could fill pages with complaints from my customers about UPS and FedEx. I could complain all day about the lines at my bank, or the slow drive through at McDonalds or any mistakes I encounter at any customer service situation. But at least I wouldn’t deliberately distort or omit parts of the story to make it more sensational.

USPS employees, many of whom are veterans and disabled veterans, chose this place of employement via the process so often extolled on this site — they searched for a decent wage and benefit package. One I might add, that is comparable to the same work in the private sector. And now because it’s trendy to bash anything associated with the federal government, we’re supposed to just sit back and absorb the abuse?

I won’t. And my shoes fit fine, thanks for asking.

postaldog on December 11, 2009 at 9:00 PM

The suburbs of D.C. are quite affordable, sorry but you don’t have to live “in town”…Fredicksburg has very average housing cost for example.

right2bright on December 11, 2009 at 12:11 PM

This is completely inaccurate, how long since you’ve lived there?

Fredericksburg is relatively affordable, but it will take you at least an hour to get to DC in the a.m. and from 1.5 – 3 hours to get home in the p.m.

That’s not a suburb, IMOP. Fredneck might as well be another state.

NoDonkey on December 12, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Comment pages: 1 2