Are Federal Workers Underpaid?

Chairman Ross, Ranking Member Lynch and Members of the Committee. Thank you for offering me the opportunity to testify with regard to federal employee compensation.

My name is Andrew Biggs and I am a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. However, the views I express today are my own and do not represent those of AEI or any other institution.

My testimony today is based upon joint research with Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation. A copy of our working paper has been enclosed with my testimony.

We limit our analysis to one question: Do federal employees on average receive greater compensation than these individuals could receive in the private sector? Our answer, which is consistent with several decades of economic research, is yes. We will briefly outline federal pay with regard to salaries, benefits, and job security.

Before beginning, however, it is important to note what this analysis does not say: it does comment on the productivity of federal employees or whether the jobs they perform are worthwhile, nor does it comment on whether the number of federal employees is larger or smaller than is needed to perform the assigned tasks. It does not comment on the work or dedication of federal government employees.

It merely asks an empirical question: whether federal employees receive higher or lower pay than those employees could themselves garner in alternate employment in the private sector. . .

Read the full testimony and graphs as an Adobe Acrobat PDF

Andrew Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI.

 

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About the Author

 

Andrew G.
Biggs
  • Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.

    Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.

    Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

  • Phone: 202-862-5841
    Email: andrew.biggs@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Kelly Funderburk
    Phone: 202-862-5920
    Email: kelly.funderburk@aei.org

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