Statement of NFFE National President William R. Dougan on USA Today Article “More Federal Workers’ Pay Tops $150,000”Thursday, November 11, 2010
Contact: Cory Bythrow
Phone: (202) 216-4458
Washington, DC - The USA Today ran a highly flawed and intentionally misleading analysis of federal workers’ pay in yesterday’s edition. The article, written by Dennis Cauchon, is called, “More federal workers’ pay tops $150,000.”
The article characterizes federal workers’ pay as “fast-growing,” when in fact federal pay adjustments have been derived from the Employments Cost Index (ECI), a gauge of the changing cost of labor in the private sector. Federal pay has not been fast-growing by any reasonable measure.
The article says that the number of federal workers earning $150,000 has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office. While true, $150,000 is an arbitrary benchmark. Each year the maximum pay level for federal employees increases slightly, again based on the ECI. More federal workers making $150,000 is simply a function of the upper pay limit for federal employees inching past the $150,000 mark in recent years. The upper limit was $149,000 in 2008.
Of the federal workers earning at least $150,000, more than half are doctors, lawyers, scientists, executives leading agencies or major programs, or people with highly specialized skills. A significant portion of the workers earning over $150,000 are doctors who care for wounded servicemen at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The federal workers in this pay bracket make tens of thousands less than those doing the same work in the private sector. To call these public servants overpaid is an insult to their service.
There have been several politically driven “studies” issued lately that claim federal employees are overpaid, and in every case, an apples-to-oranges comparison has been made to misconstrue the data. When federal jobs are compared with the same jobs in the private sector, federal employees make 24% less than those at private firms. This is according to independent Department of Labor pay data. The Bush Administration used the same data each of his years in office and certified federal employees were significantly underpaid each year.
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