Tags: Gallup | Federal | worker | private

Gallup: Federal Workers Are Thriving More Than Their Private Sector Peers Are

By    |   Monday, 09 March 2015 08:00 AM

There are certain advantages to feeding at the public trough — a new Gallup poll reveals U.S. federal government workers are prospering more than workers in the private economy are.

Specifically, 44 percent of federal workers are thriving financially, compared with 34 percent of all other U.S. workers.

"Federal pay has been a topic of debate for years, with differing accounts of whether federal employees are paid more, no more or less than non-federal employees," Gallup's Jessica Mangskau and Steve Ander write.

The survey, for which 80,223 employed adults were polled, demonstrates that 42 percent of non-federal workers are struggling with their financial well-being, compared with 39 percent of federal workers. In addition, 24 percent of non-federal workers are actually suffering financially, while only 17 percent of Uncle Sam's workers are suffering.

However, financial well-being does not consist of salary, benefits or overall compensation alone, therefore, it is possible for someone to have a higher salary but still rate low in financial well-being.

"But for those who experience higher levels of financial well-being, they feel as if they can spend time and energy addressing other facets of well-being in their day-to-day lives, including their purpose, social, community and physical well-being," Mangskau and Ander explain.

"These data show that federal employment is likely associated with higher levels of economic stability and reductions in the stress of providing for a comfortable lifestyle because federal workers report higher financial well-being."

Higher levels of thriving for federal government workers are also seen in educational attainment. More than a third (35 percent) of federal employees with a high school degree or less are thriving, compared with about a quarter (27 percent) of those working outside of the U.S. government. Among those with a postgraduate education, the gap was even more pronounced – there was an 8-point advantage in thriving among those federal workers with a postgraduate education versus their peers in the private sector.

At least one important reason why federal workers tend to have higher financial well-being might be that they feel their jobs are not going away anytime soon.

Gallup research defines financial well-being as managing one's economic life to reduce stress and increase security.

"Financial well-being is not necessarily related to absolute income, but rather to approaches to saving and spending and future expectations of job security, among other subjective factors," Mangskau and Ander note.

One freshman congressman from Arkansas is looking to take a bite out of federal worker compensation.

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., is introducing legislation to trim pension benefits for federal retirees starting in 2017.

"This is just a way to find some savings in the budget in an effort to balance the budget over a 10-year period," he said in an interview with the Fort Smith Times Record. "To me, it is one of the least intrusive things we could do."

In 2013, the federal government paid $75 billion in civilian pension benefits, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management estimates there were 4.2 million federal employees as of 2013, about the same number as just before the 2008 financial crisis that was expected to lead to smaller government.

The high-water mark of federal workers was hit in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, when there were 6.6 million federal workers, according to the agency.

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There are certain advantages to feeding at the public trough — a new Gallup poll reveals U.S. federal government workers are prospering more than workers in the private economy are.
Gallup, Federal, worker, private
Monday, 09 March 2015 08:00 AM
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