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The Privileged ClassEmployees of federal, state and local governments all are paid more, on average, than employees in the private sector. The disparity is greatest at the federal level. In 1991, the latest year for which complete figures are available:

Wages and salaries of federal civilian employees were, on average, 26 percent higher than private wages and salaries, and those of state and local government employees were 5.4 percent higher.

When fringe benefits were included, the annual compensation of federal civilian employees averaged $46,164, or 45.2 percent more than the $31,789 of private-sector employees.

The annual compensation of state and local government employees was $35,054, or 10.3 percent more than that of private-sector employees.

When the greater amount of employee time off was also considered, the hourly compensation of federal employees was 64 percent higher than private-sector employees, and state and local government employees’ compensation was 25 percent higher. The pattern of higher public-sector pay held true nationwide.

Among state governments, annual employee compensation in 1991 exceeded that of private-sector employees in every state but Georgia and Missouri, and hourly compensation was higher in all 50 states.

Further, state government employees received at least $5,000 more in compensation than private-sector employees in 26 states.

Among local governments, annual employee compensation exceeded that of private-sector employees in 38 states. Between 1980 and 1991, after adjustments for inflation, state and local government employees received $4.78 and federal civilian employees received $4.56 in new compensation for every $1 that private employee compensation increased.

Source: Wendell Cox and Samuel A. Brunelli, “America’s Protected Class III,” State Factor, Vol. 20, No. 4, April 1994, American Legislative Exchange Council, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Suite 240, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 547-4646.

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