High School Dropout? Gov’t Will Pay You 36% More Than Private Sector

By Elizabeth Harrington | August 13, 2012 | 6:11pm EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – People who drop out of high school and get a job with the federal government earn, on average, 36 percent more in wages and benefits than their dropout counterparts in the private sector, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

In fact, the CRS report confirmed, federal government workers generally earn more than their peers in the private sector.

In the report, Comparing Compensation for Federal and Private-Sector Workers: An Overview, the CRS analyzed five different studies on compensation comparison, two of which were government studies: the President’s Pay Agent and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

In its “Major Findings of the CBO Study on Compensation for Federal and Private Sector Workers,” the CRS showed the percentage difference in average compensation for someone working in the federal government versus working in the private sector. (See p. 10 of CRS report.)

The CBO findings compared wages, benefits and total compensation for people with the following educational background:  High School or Less; Some College; Bachelor’s Degree; Master’s Degree; Professional Degree or Doctorate; and All Levels of Education.

For someone with a high school diploma or less, i.e., a dropout, he or she earns 36 percent more in “total compensation” than a person in a comparable job with the same educational background in the private sector. As for wages specifically, the government worker earns 21 percent more and, for benefits, 72 percent more than the private sector worker.

For the person with “Some College,” i.e., a college dropout, he or she earns 32 percent more in total compensation than their counterpart in the private sector.

Got a bachelor’s degree? Then the federal sector will pay on average 15 percent more in total compensation.  A master’s degree?  8 percent more in total compensation.

Dome of U.S. Capitol building. (AP Photo.)

If you hold a “Professional Degree or Doctorate,” however, the situation reverses, and the federal sector pays an average 18 percent less than found in a comparable job in the private sector.

For “All Levels of Education” the CBO study found that the federal worker gets 16 percent more in total compensation than the comparable private sector employee.

In its report, the CRS stated: “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in its analysis of the compensation of federal and private-sector employees, focuses on the question of how the federal government’s compensation costs would differ ‘if the average cost of employing federal workers was the same as that of employing workers in the private sector with certain similar observable characteristics.’”

Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.

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