A new study released by the Heritage Foundation threatens to revive the debate over federal pay. Just when it appeared that recent failures in Congress to pass restrictions on pay levels and raises (Highlights, “Congress rejects proposals to freeze federal pay,” May 31, 2010) had quelled the flames of debate, this new report restated previous assertions that federal salaries are much higher than those in the private sector. For example, the report points to data that supports the contention that federal employees earn about 30-40 percent more than that earned by private-sector workers in comparable jobs. Another factor that Heritage says supports their assertions is that federal job turnover is much less than that (about 1/3) in the private sector. But, OMB Director Peter Orzag and others have disputed such analyses as often being misleading (Highlights, “Federal pay comes under fire,” May 12, 2010). Orzag argues that the federal workforce is more educated and experienced than the private workforce, which probably accounts for almost all the difference in average salary comparisons. Whether this new study will have traction in Congress remains to be seen.
New Heritage Foundation study may revive federal pay debate
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