President Obama's proposal to freeze most federal workers' salaries has intensified the debate over whether U.S. government employees are overpaid.
A report by the libertarian Cato Institute says that in 2009, the average federal civilian wage was $81,258 per year, compared with $50,462 in the private sector, based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. If you add benefits, total compensation swelled to $123,049, roughly twice the private-sector average of $61,051.
"In 2009, federal compensation was 66 percent above private-sector compensation. Today it's 102 percent above, so the gap is increasing," says Chris Edwards, author of the Cato report (available at downsizinggovernment.org).
Critics say such studies are flawed because the federal workf