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OPM: Pay gap widens; feds fall further behind private sector

Nov. 1, 2010 - 03:03PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The OPM's data, culled from information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, undercuts the argument that federal workers are significantly overpaid, the National Treasury Employees Union said in a release.
The OPM's data, culled from information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, undercuts the argument that federal workers are significantly overpaid, the National Treasury Employees Union said in a release. (Floriday Today)

The pay advantage enjoyed by private-sector workers over federal employees grew to 24 percent in 2010, two percentage points higher than in 2009, according to data the Office of Personnel Management released Friday.

The pay gap data, culled from information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, undercuts the conservative argument that federal workers are significantly overpaid, the National Treasury Employees Union said in a Nov. 1 release.

"There is a great deal of misinformation being advanced, largely for partisan political purposes, that federal employees are overpaid," NTEU President Colleen Kelley said. "In fact, the opposite is true."

But Chris Edwards, the Cato Institute's director of tax policy studies, questioned OPM's figure. With the poor economy which has put millions of people out of work and stifled the salaries of many more private-sector workers it's ridiculous to claim federal employees are falling further behind, he said.

"To come up with results showing an increase doesn't make sense," Edwards said. "It conflicts with the broader patterns. Clearly, private wages have stagnated, but we know federal workers continue to get raises."

Edwards said the results show the government's process for determining the pay gap is flawed.

"We need an outside auditor like PricewaterhouseCoopers to come in and audit the whole pay gap methodology," Edwards said. "There's been no public, detailed study on exactly how they get these results."

If Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's election, Edwards expects they will hold hearings on federal compensation and dig into the government's pay gap methodology.

The pay gap figures were released at a meeting of the Federal Salary Council. The council will use the data to help set locality pay raises for 2012.

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