Public/Private Sector Worker Pay Gap Widens

October 20, 2009 ( - The gap between average pay for federal and private sector workers rose 1.25% during the past year, the Federal Salary Council reported, according to

The pay gap between public and private sector workers increased from 25.17% in 2008 to 26.42% in 2009. The biggest hikes in pay gaps occurred in Cincinnati (4.52%); Sacramento (2.82%); Washington (2.8%); Hartford, Connecticut, (2.63%); and New York City (2.61%).

The salary council said the size of large incentive payments to some private sector workers who are the equivalent of General Schedule Level 12 administrative employees distorted the overall pay gap, and if that data were excluded, the 2009 pay gap would be 22.13% instead of 26.42%. However, reported that Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, pointed out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics cycles 20% of private sector pay data out of its sample every year, so the effect of those bonuses on the pay gap equation are short-lived.

The council did not recommend a specific pay raise for federal employees in 2010. Randy Erwin, legislative director for the National Federation of Federal Employees, said the council did not make a recommendation for how to allocate the pay raise between salary hikes and locality pay because Congress hasn’t approved a raise yet.