Does Government Overpay or Underpay for Services?

Government and private pay scales differ. Relative to the private sector, government tends to underpay people in jobs requiring more experience and more complex skills. It tends to overpay those in jobs requiring less experience and less complex skills. This has produced problems in Canada, Great Britain, and other countries where government run health care means government controls pay scales. The table below shows the U.S. numbers for salaried, full-time, workers from a larger table provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Note: the hourly earnings data exclude overtime. They do not include incomes for people with their own businesses or who work part-time or benefits. Benefits tend to be richer for public employees, increasing their total compensation relative to private workers. The category “all private industry” includes private non-profits.


Comments (4)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    It’s interesting how positions like nurses, lab techs and orderlies make about the same wage regardless of where they work. Yet social workers, childcare workers and counselors all make substantially more if working in local government. This is especially true for counselors, the job that (arguably) has the least objective standards of any listed.

  2. Tom H. says:

    It looks like the government underpays for the services that matter most.

  3. Larry C. says:

    Right on Tom. It underpays for the services that can keep you alive.

  4. Virginia says:

    The fact that government pays more for counselors makes sense to me. The thing that I hear over and over among those in favor of big government is that private companies are greedy and don’t care about the person. They think ,”Anybody can operate. Not everyone can care for a person.”

    Plus, counselor and social workers tend to be at the bottom of the totem pole, so, if you think about it, the government doctors are effectively subsidizing their lower-income colleagues.