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The Government Is Actually Not Growing When It Comes to Earnings

The federal government was the only industry to see a decline in earnings in 2013, according to new statistics.

The federal civilian government was the only industry that experienced a drop in earnings in 2013 – a $6.7 billion decrease, to be precise -- according to new statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Unpaid employee furloughs related to sequestration, which began in March 2013, are partially to blame for the overall 2.24 percent decline in civilian federal government earnings last year. The government saw a smaller drop of $815 million in earnings between 2011 and 2012. The across-the-board annual civilian pay freeze, which took effect in January 2011 and ended in December 2013, also could be a factor in the decline in earnings during those years. What didn’t have an effect? The government shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1, 2013, through October 16, 2013, and resulted in the furloughs of roughly 800,000 federal workers. Congress approved back pay for furloughed employees, so there was no effect on government wages and salaries.

The lackluster earnings for the federal government last year had regional implications as well: The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia overall experienced “relatively slow earnings growth in 2013,” according to BEA, in part because of a $1.1 billion drop in civilian federal government earnings.

Earnings growth slowed in most private-sector industries last year, though none experienced an actual decline like the federal government. Professional services, construction and health care experienced the greatest earnings gains in 2013, according to BEA data.

The first chart below shows earnings growth in 2013 by industry, for a sampling of industries; the second chart illustrates the percent change in earnings growth for the federal civilian government by U.S. geographic region from 2012-2013.

( Top image via KingJC / )