The Permanent Boomtown: For federal workers, the deal keeps getting sweeter

The Permanent Boomtown: For federal workers, the deal keeps getting sweeter. By James Freeman.

Your humble correspondent is in Washington for the day and—as usual when visiting the nation’s capital—is struck by the many construction projects underway. The Obama years were good ones for growth in the District of Columbia, if not for many other places.Jobs increased about 22% in D.C. while America’s 44th President was in the White House. By way of comparison, New York state eked outtotal job growth during the Obama presidency of about 1%. …

This column is old enough to remember when working for the government was referred to as “public service.” Now it’s the reverse. One would think that in return for bulletproof job security and a permanent pass from the normal market requirement to make something or sell something, federal workers would have to accept lower compensation. One would be wrong.

Not only are America’s 2.2 million civilian federal employees making more than their counterparts in the private market; the compensation gap is widening between the feds and the taxpaying public they allegedly serve. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office released this week finds that “the federal government paid 17 percent more in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector.”

The story in Canberra is much the same. These people are the new elite, or do its work. They escape the discipline of the market, and their rewards are determined by what they think they are worth, rather than what the market thinks they are worth. Sweet. Shame it comes out of our taxes.