Federal pay surpasses private sector

For those balancing offers of employment from the public and private sector, first, our congratulations.  Beyond that, make the decision a little easier by reading the analysis of compensation for jobs that exists in both realms, reported by USA Today.  Not only are salaries now over 10% higher in the federal government, but the benefits package averages more than four times the benefits offered in the competitive sector:

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Here are the top 10 big winners on salary by dollar difference:

Job Federal Private Difference Pct
Public relations manager $132,410 $88,241 $44,169 50.05%
Broadcast technician $90,310 $49,265 $41,045 83.31%
Clergy $70,460 $39,247 $31,213 79.53%
Chemist $98,060 $72,120 $25,940 35.97%
Graphic designer $70,820 $46,565 $24,255 52.09%
Landscape architects $80,830 $58,380 $22,450 38.45%
Recreation worker $43,630 $21,671 $21,959 101.33%
Cook $38,400 $23,279 $15,121 64.96%
Pest control worker $48,670 $33,675 $14,995 44.53%
Laundry, dry-cleaning worker $33,100 $19,945 $13,155 65.96%

In case you’re wondering, the worst deal on the list is for optometrists, who take an average 42% loss in salary to work for the federal government.  In that case, though, the benefits package just about makes up the difference.  Physicians and surgeons are just about at the break-even point, while lawyers only take a 2.5% loss in salary.

Why does a government broadcast technician make 83% more than one in the private sector?  Why does the government employ public relations managers at all?  Clearly, these jobs could be outsourced by contract and save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Why aren’t they outsourced?  Most of these jobs are unionized.  The SEIU and AFSCME have a grip on the federal workplace, which is — not coincidentally — why taxpayers pay double for a recreation worker, or 45% more for pest control salaries rather than just call Orkin.