Uncle Sam’s Employees vs You


Sunday August 4th, 2013   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 9:26am PDT   •  

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How does your income compare to that of an employee of the U.S. federal government?

Recently, Political Calculations took a unique approach to answering that question. They obtained the federal government’s public payroll data for every one of its employees named Smith and used that as a statistical sample to model their distribution of income, which they compared with the overall distribution of income for all individual Americans.

They then built a calculator where you can enter an income and find out what percentile of either federal government employees or individual Americans either earn that income or less.

The default data in the tool is set up with the median income for individual Americans of $26,588. Here is how they describe the results for that amount of annual income:

Our default data in the tool above is the median income earned by all U.S. individuals in 2011. 50% of Americans with income earn more than this amount, and 50% earn less.

As you can see however, our tool estimates that about 5% of all U.S. federal government employees earn this amount or less, which means that at least 95% of all U.S. federal government employees earn more than this annual pay. That means that the U.S. federal government’s non-postal, civilian employees are major contributors to the overall level of income inequality in the United States.

Using the calculator with the $66,974 median income for U.S. federal employees in 2011, our results were that 49.7% of federal employees earned this income or less, which is just 0.3% off from what it should be for this value. More significantly though, this $66,974 income is more than the incomes earned by 84.7% of regular Americans.

Another way to describe that result is that half of the U.S. federal government’s 2,221,780 employees are in the Top 15% of all individual income earners in the United States.

Is it any wonder then that metropolitan Washington, D.C., is home to seven of the ten most affluent counties in the entire United States?

That Uncle Sam’s employees make more than just about everyone else was earlier driven home by a Congressional Budget Office study that found that after accounting for differences in education, experience, and job responsibilities, federal employees receive more compensation than their direct private sector peers. Especially after accounting for the extremely generous benefits they enjoy.

Featured Image:
Library of Congress



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