The following information was recently published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
The above chart uses the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent Employment Cost Index to compare percent changes in public and private worker compensation within each of the five largest sectors in the United States during the 12 month period ending March 2010.
Compensation includes health and retirement benefits (roughly 30% of compensation), salary (roughly 70% of compensation), and legally required benefits such as payments for Social Security and Medicare. The sectors examined here employ over 65 million workers, or nearly half of all employed Americans. These sectors are (in order from largest to smallest by total employment): Office and Administrative Support, Sales, Food Preparation and Service, Production, and Transportation and Material Moving.
Across the sectors examined, compensation costs in the private sector increased 1.78% from March 2009 to March 2010. Public sector compensation increased by 8% more than its private counterpart at a level of 1.92%. Importantly these compensation increases occur on top of an existing public sector wage differential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent estimate, as of September 2009, the average public sector worker received $29.40 in hourly compensation while the average private sector worker received $27.49 in total compensation, or $1.91 less.
The trend in these sectors is consistent with larger trends in compensation. Across all sectors, public workers earnings increased 1.7% during the period from March 2009 to March 2010, while private workers' compensation increased 1.6%. During the preceding 12 month period, the disparity in public-private compensation increases is even more pronounced: public sector compensation increased 2.1% while private sector compensation only increased 1.9%.
These trends are consistent with public-private compensation trends throughout the economy.
According to USA Today:
"Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available."
And let's just add insult to injury:
"These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis."