Federal pay: Are you one of the 77,000?

You may have heard about a Congressional Research Service study that found that about 77,000 feds make more than the governors of their states.

You may have heard about a Congressional Research Service study that found that about 77,000 feds make more than the governors of their states.

The detailed, 54-page report was assembled at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who — yes — asked CRS to compare the salaries of federal employees to the salaries of the governors of the states which the feds reside.

The study was not exactly all-inclusive. Some federal agencies were excluded, including a number of intelligence agencies, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the White House Office, the Office of the Vice President, the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission, and a few others. Non-appropriated fund employees also were excluded.

Salaries included from the legislative branch were limited to those of the Government Printing Office and certain commissions. As one footnote explains: “As indicated to you in a telephone message from CRS, no other official source provides comprehensive and searchable information on the remainder of the legislative branch. A comparison of legislative branch salaries to the salaries of governors is, therefore, not possible.”

Hmmm.

CRS found that governors’ salaries ranged from $212,179 in California and $179,000 in New York (the two highest), to $70,000 in Maine and $87,352 in Arkansas (the two lowest).

The results of the comparison? The occupational series most likely to earn more than the governor was medical officer, of whom 18,351 made more than the governor of their state (probably no big surprise to Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D). This was followed by air traffic control, 5,170; general attorney, 4,346; general engineering, 3,539, and miscellaneous administration and program positions, 2,777.

The state where the highest number of feds earned more than the governor was Colorado — 10,875. Of course, their governor earns $90,000, one of the lowest.

Maryland was second, with 7,284 feds making more than the governor’s $150,000. Then again, Maryland borders the nation’s capital on three sides, so there are bound to be at least a few high-earning feds who live in the state.

There’s more of this stuff in the report — in excruciating detail — but you can look for yourself.

So what does it mean that 77,000 out of a couple million feds make more than the governors of their states? Well, we’re not really sure.

And how does one compare salaries for a short-term elected office with salaries for lifelong professional careers? Again, we’re not entirely sure.

But the press picked it up anyway.

Which may be the whole point.

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