Public-Private Sector Pay Gap Continues to Grow, But Not As Rapidly

3Dstock/Shutterstock.com

The gap between federal and private-sector pay continued to widen in 2013, according to a new study. Typical federal employees now earn  35.4 percent less than their private sector peers, the Federal Salary Council reported.

The council, made up of union representatives and pay policy experts, used data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to make its calculations. In 2012, the council found the gap expanded by more than 8 percentage points. This year, the pay gap grew by just 0.8 percentage points.

The pay disparities vary by locality. In the Washington, D.C., area, for example, private-sector workers make 49 percent more than their federal counterparts.

The report conflicts with several other studies -- including those from conservative-leaning think tanks -- that show federal employees earn more than those in the private sector. A 2012 Government Accountability Office study concluded there is no definitive way to measure any potential gap.

Federal employees had their pay frozen for the last three years, though they are likely headed for a 1 percent, across-the-board raise in 2014.

The salary council also recommended creating 12 new localities for pay purposes. Currently, OPM uses 33 metropolitan or state-based distinctions, as well as a 34th “rest of the United States” category. The council suggested the same 12 additions last year, but no changes were enacted. The recommended locality pay areas are: Albany, N.Y.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Colorado Spring, Colo.; Davenport, Iowa; Harrisburg, Pa.; Laredo, Texas; Las Vegas; Palm Bay, Fla.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tucson, Ariz.

(Image via 3Dstock/Shutterstock.com)

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