Many public workers agree they have it better than private sector peers

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Many Americans continue to believe government workers have it easier than their private sector counterparts, and that includes public servants themselves.

Sixty-six percent of 1,000 adults polled recently by Rasmussen Reports said they believed private sector employees work harder than government employees, and 56 percent believed government workers earn more annually.

Nearly half of government workers in the survey -- 46 percent -- agreed they don’t work as hard as their private sector counterparts; 32 percent said they work harder, and 22 percent were not sure. The government workers also saw eye to eye with their private sector counterparts about job security: 62 percent of government employees said they have more security and 67 percent of overall respondents held that view.

The government employees did differ in how they viewed their pay. Just 35 percent of those who identified themselves as government workers said they thought the average public servant earns more annually than the typical private sector worker.

Rasmussen Reports conducted the telephone survey April 1-2 with an online survey tool to target those without landline phones. Participants were randomly selected from a range of demographic groups, including age, ethnicity, employer and political affiliation. The margin of error was plus or minus three points, with a 95 percent level of confidence

Only 9 percent of the survey’s respondents identified themselves as government workers -- 31 percent said they worked for private companies, 20 percent were entrepreneurs, 20 percent were retired and 21 percent identified as “other.”

“Though Americans of all political affiliations tend to think government workers have it better than private sector workers, Republicans feel the strongest about it,” Rassmussen said in a statement.

The latest results are consistent with similar surveys Rasmussen conducted in previous years.

A Pew Research Center study of several national polls released in March found attitudes toward government pay and benefits favored policies unfriendly to feds, such as the current federal pay freeze. Michael Dimock, associate director of research for the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, said during times of economic uncertainly people “have an impression that government jobs are good jobs, and their sense of fairness tells them that the uncertainly should be applied more equally.”

The survey results stem from “all the unflattering lies being spewed about our federal workforce the last few years,” the National Association of Federal and Retired Employees said. 

“It’s not surprising that there are still Americans who don’t fully understand all that federal employees do to protect us and keep our country moving forward,” NARFE legislative director Julie Tagen said.

The National Treasury Employees Union questioned the Rasmussen poll’s methodology.

“Using flawed questions with prejudiced multiple choice answers, the Rasmussen poll -- not surprisingly -- ends with biased results,”  NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a statement provided to Government Executive.

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