From Heritage .org
Federal employees are often called civil servants because their work is considered a "sacrifice" on their part to "serve" the public.
But for many of Uncle Sam's employees, it's not really that much of a sacrifice to work for the government.
Recent findings reveal that, on average, federal employees receive much higher pay, better compensation and more job security compared to their private sector counterparts, forcing a real sacrifice on the part of taxpayers to fund these elaborate benefits.
Heritage Foundation labor expert James Sherk has just released a study analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey for 2006 through 2009. He found that "the federal pay system gives the average federal employee hourly cash earnings 22 percent above the average private worker's, controlling for observable skills and characteristics." This translates to about $28.64 an hour for Uncle Sam's workers versus $18.27 an hour for those in the private sector.
But it's not simply better take-home pay. Federal workers also enjoy far better benefits. "The average private sector employer pays $9,882 per employee in annual benefits, while federal government pays an average of $32,115 per employee," writes Sherk. When factoring in these non-cash benefits, which include the coveted Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, federal employees are earning approximately 30 to 40 percent more in total compensation.
This all adds up. Sherk found that if federal employee compensation mirrored that of their private sector counterparts, federal spending would be reduced by $47 billion in 2011 alone.
That's right, that's $47 billion in savings if federal workers were paid like those in the private sector.
And this cost will only increase as the federal government adds more workers to its payroll. Unemployment currently stands at 9.5 percent and the economy continues to shed private sector jobs, but the government has added almost 200,000 jobs since the recession began. And these new hires, along with older ones, receive unmatched job security – a priceless commodity in today's market. Once hired, Sherk notes, feds "keep their jobs unless their supervisor works through an arduous process of exhaustively documenting their performance and working through a complex appeal process."
This imposes an enormous burden on taxpayers. As Heritage President Ed Feulner writes on Townhall.com, "federal over-compensation sends the wrong message, encouraging people to work for the government even though most federal jobs don't contribute much to overall economic growth."
Something has to be done. And Heritage Foundation experts have prepared common-sense solutions.
The federal government should:
Replace its seniority-based, wage-fixing pay scale with performance-based pay.
Reduce federal benefits.
Make it easier to dismiss unproductive employees.
Not all federal employees are overpaid. Some of the most skilled and hardest working are probably underpaid.
But the "government is a monopoly," writes Heritage's Conn Carroll. "It has no competitors to act as a check on employee compensation." Unless serious reforms are enacted, taxpayers are looking at an excess cost of $47 billion for civil "service" next year – whether it's good service or not. And that's a real sacrifice for taxpayers.