Once upon a time, private industry was the engine of the great American economic machine. From coast to coast, expanding industries spawned massive cities filled with optimistic Americans who were able to achieve middle class lifestyles on the good jobs that American companies were providing for them. The largest middle class in the history of the world had been created and it seemed possible for just about everyone to live the American Dream. But today all of that has changed. The private sector is being dominated by gigantic global corporations that have shown absolutely no hesitation to ship jobs overseas. Millions upon millions of good jobs have been sent to China, India and the third world and they are never coming back. Pay and benefits for middle class Americans working in private industry have been slowly eroding and are now at dangerously low levels. Meanwhile, working as a “government servant” has never been more rewarding. Today, the average government worker makes far more than the average worker in the private sector does.
How much more?
Well, according to a new study from the Heritage Foundation, U.S. government workers earn 30 to 40 percent more money than their private sector counterparts on average.
So, in essence, the “servants” make substantially more money than the taxpayers who employ them.
Isn’t the system great?
In fact, according to the study, if you add in retirement and health care benefits, the average federal employee now earns nearly twice as much as the average private sector employee.
Just check out this excerpt from the study….
“Including non-cash benefits adds to this disparity. The average private-sector employer pays $9,882 per employee in annual benefits, while the federal government pays an average of $32,115 per employee.”
Yes, it is very good to be a U.S. government employee in 2010.
Meanwhile, the private sector continues to bleed jobs. The U.S. economy lost 131,000 more jobs during the month of July. Needless to say, the vast majority of those job losses came from private industry.
The truth is that it is becoming very, very difficult to live a middle class lifestyle if you do not work for the government.
A reader of this column named Tim recently shared the difficult experiences he has been going through as an employee in the private sector….
Been with my current company over 12 years. Last pay raise I got was six years ago. The last two years we’ve had our salaries actually reduced. 401K matching, vacation time, company stock purchase plans, actual pay, all gone or reduced. Me and buddies figure it to be about ~14% overall reduction. At my level I was averaging a 10% annual bonus (which are now a vague memory).
All in all, I am NOW working longer hours, at a much less satisfying job (it actually sucks), for about 20-25% less than I was making just 3 years ago.
My company was once a very highly respected company for the way it treated employees and the loyalty that created. We were long term focused, made great products. but now? ha! Upper management pushes harder and harder so they get their *quarterly* bonuses. Below VP level, people, and I mean a LOT of people are now pushing 55-60+ hour weeks for fear of losing their jobs.
With all this said – I still consider myself LUCKY. Even with the ~20% pay reduction, I still make very good money. But one thing has drastically changed. I no longer circulate my money. It all goes into savings. Every spare penny. And while this is good for me, we all understand it is at the expense of the local economy.
The saddest thing is to see my kids now graduating from college (two in the last four years!). They are entering a dismal job market with no hope of “true” recovery in the foreseeable future.
Of course the U.S. government cannot keep paying their workers above market wages forever.
But for now, if you need a good job and can stand to do it, working for the U.S. government pays really, really well.
Might as well jump on the gravy train for as long as it lasts.
So is this a good system?
Of course not.
The true wealth of a nation is produced by the private sector. But unfortunately, the private sector is providing fewer and fewer good jobs in the United States.
The truth is that the U.S. government has become the last great source of middle class American jobs. This will not be able to last indefinitely, but for now those seeking the safety and security of a job (“just over broke”) should be looking to the government because the chances of getting a great job in the private sector are getting slimmer by the day.