A new study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a federal agency, indicates that federal employees are paid about 34 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector. Aside from the obvious fact that maybe federal employees shouldn’t be the ones responsible for collecting and interpreting data on their own pay, the study is rife with problems.
A Congressional Budget Office Report in 2011 claimed that federal workers earned two percent more than their private sector compatriots. A non-government conservative thinktank put that at fourteen percent more.
Of course, it’s all about how you interpret the data. Federal employees and private sector employees rarely do similar jobs. Further, a study by the Heritage Foundation found that government employees work about a month less per year than private sector workers, so even if they were being paid less, maybe that would still be fair. The data being used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics employs about half the sample size as the same study from last year. This means the data is even more susceptible to “adjustment.” The numbers here are all over the place.
All of this adds up to… well it doesn’t add up. The study is hardly relevant. The only reason such a study is even necessary is because it is impossible otherwise to determine how much public sector employees should be paid. Think about that. How do we determine how much private sector employees are paid? By what their work is worth. By how much money they can make for a company. By how much the average person is willing to pay for a particular good or service. By how many able people are available to do the same job. But public sector employees can’t be judged by these criteria. They don’t make money. They spend it. And the value of their service is largely irrelevant to whether or not their jobs will still exist tomorrow.
I for one think they all get paid too much, no matter how you slice it. Maybe if we paid all of them minimum wage, federal bureacracies might shrink back down to a more constitutional level of influence.