NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 14, 2009

The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months -- and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time -- in pay and hiring -- during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases, says USA TODAY:

  • Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available.
  • When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more; 18 months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000.

The trend to six-figure salaries is occurring throughout the federal government, in agencies big and small, high-tech and low-tech.  The primary cause: substantial pay raises and new salary rules.

The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

"There's no way to justify this to the American people.  It's ridiculous," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a first-term lawmaker who is on the House's federal workforce subcommittee.

Source: Dennis Cauchon, "For feds, more get 6-figure salaries," USA Today, December 10, 2009.

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