While the rest of America has been dealing with high unemployment and stagnant wages, at least one sector of the economy can thank Barack Obama and Democrats for boom times, and no, it’s not the protest sign design industry. USA Today reports that federal employee wages have skyrocketed over the last five years, with the number of federal workers making $150,000 or more a year has increased fivefold during that time. The number has doubled in the 22 months since Obama took office (via The New Editor):
The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
The fast-growing pay of federal employees has captured the attention of fiscally conservative Republicans who won control of the U.S. House of Representatives in last week’s elections. Already, some lawmakers are planning to use the lame-duck session that starts Monday to challenge the president’s plan to give a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise to 2.1 million federal workers. ..
•Government-wide raises. Top-paid staff have increased in every department and agency. The Defense Department had nine civilians earning $170,000 or more in 2005, 214 when Obama took office and 994 in June.
•Long-time workers thrive. The biggest pay hikes have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years. Since 2005, average salaries for this group climbed 25% compared with a 9% inflation rate.
•Physicians rewarded. Medical doctors at veterans hospitals, prisons and elsewhere earn an average of $179,500, up from $111,000 in 2005.
In 2005, wage earners at the $150K level and above comprised 0.4% of the federal workforce. They now comprise 3.9% of the workforce.
What does that mean in real numbers? In 2005, only 7,420 federal employees make $150K. Today, that number has grown to 82,034, roughly double what it was at the end of 2008. Nor is that just inflationary growth across an artificial line. In 2005, only 2,852 federal workers made more than $160,000; now it’s 44,898. Five years ago, less than a thousand workers made over $180K, but today that number has increased by more than 20 times to 16,912 workers.
This would be problematic even if the country had experienced boom times over the last five years, and especially over the last two. But that has obviously not been the case — or at least not the case inside of the Beltway bubble. Given the tough labor market for workers over that period, the government should have been in a better position to negotiate wages to decrease the cost of its workforce, which gets paid by the sweat of the taxpayers’ collective brow. Instead, they have become profligate with our money.