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Government Data Show Pay Gap Grows to 24 Percent in Favor of Private Sector

Monday, November 1 2010

Washington, D.C. —Once again, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the gap between the pay of federal employees and workers in the private sector is more than 20 percent—in favor of the private sector—sharply undercutting arguments the federal workforce is overpaid, the leader of the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees said today.

“Under the law, BLS is charged with collecting these data,” said President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), “and BLS reports that for 2010, the pay gap has widened to 24 percent, on average, from 22 percent.”

BLS surveys of public and private sector jobs performing similar work in the same geographic area consistently have shown a pay gap in favor of the private sector.

The current BLS information was presented at a recent meeting of the Federal Salary Council, which, in turn, makes recommendations about federal pay matters to the President’s Pay Agent. That latter body is made up of the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, along with the Secretary of Labor.

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

The NTEU leader noted the important role played by federal employees in the life of the nation, from homeland security to environmental protection; from ensuring the safety and efficacy of the nation’s food supply, prescription medications and medical devices to key roles in reform of the health care and financial regulatory systems; and much more.

“There is a direct link between the work of federal employees and the quality of life in our country,” the NTEU leader said. “Polls show that when Americans have contact with federal employees, they understand, respect and appreciate their vital role in their lives.”

As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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