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FEDERAL WORKERS GET LESS PAY THAN THOSE IN PRIVATE SECTOR

SHARE FEDERAL WORKERS GET LESS PAY THAN THOSE IN PRIVATE SECTOR

Forget the myth that white-collar federal workers have cushy, high-paying jobs.

A new study says such federal workers in Utah almost always are paid less that non-government employees with identical jobs.In fact, the U.S. General Accounting Office - an investigative arm of Congress - said some federal employees in Utah earn up to 58 percent less than their counterparts in private enterprise.

Also, federal salary levels for 14 of the 16 white-collar job types it surveyed in Utah were lower than what private companies offer.

The GAO performed the study for congressional committees trying to determine whether federal white-collar salary rates are competitive, and how to improve federal recruitment and retention.

It did not list exact salaries, but listed how much less or more government workers were paid and what percentage government salaries would have to be adjusted to match the private-market rate.

Among some of the findings in the Salt Lake City-Ogden area in 1988 - the last year for which data are available:

-An upper-level government drafter earns $9,216 a year less than private-company drafters. The GAO said that pay rate would have to be raised 58.1 percent to match the private-market rate.

-An upper-level government accounting clerk earns $4,263 a year less. That pay would need to be raised 28.4 percent to match private rates.

-An entry-level government key-entry operator earns $2,433 a year less. It would need to be raised 21.9 percent to match private rates.

-An entry-level government typist earns $2,669 a year less, requiring a 23.9 percent raise to match private rates.

-An upper-level government computer programmer earns $4,452 a year less, requiring a 20.9 percent increase to match private rates.

The only two job listings in Utah where government workers were found to earn more than in private enterprise are entry-level secretaries (5.7 percent more) and entry-level computer operators (7.1 percent more).

The GAO study said that, on average, it finds that such workers nationwide are paid about 25 percent less than their private-sector counterparts at similar job-skill levels.

It said that is true even with a 3.6 percent pay increase that took effect in January. That raise was part of controversial legislation that raised the salaries of House members from $89,500 to $96,600 - and will automatically raise it to about $125,000 next year.

The same legislation raised salaries in the Senate from $89,500 to $98,400.