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Government salaries vs. private sector salaries

By Laura Morsch
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( -- He's the leader of the free world, but the does president's salary measure up to his power? Not if you compare his salary with top leaders in the private sector.

President Bush earns a salary of $400,000 plus a $50,000 nontaxable expense allowance. By contrast, the average Standard & Poor's 500 company CEO took home $11.75 million in 2005, according to a Corporate Library report cited by the AFL-CIO.

And while other top government officials earn a very comfortable living, they might be occupying far higher salary brackets in the corporate world:

  • Vice President -- $212,100
  • Chief Justice, Supreme Court -- $212,100
  • Associate Justice, Supreme Court -- $203,000
  • Cabinet-level officials (Secretary of State, Treasury, etc.) -- $183,500
  • Speaker of the House -- $165,200
  • Senator or Representative -- $165,200
  • Despite lower pay in the upper echelons of the government, half of government workers surveyed by said they plan to stay in their current jobs until retirement, and the government's benefits package may be one reason for federal employees' longevity.

    Unlike most private employees, federal workers can choose from several health plans and life insurance options, according to the Department of Labor's "Career Guide to Industries." The government also helps pick up the tab on the premiums.

    Government workers also get more paid time off than many other employees. All federal employees receive 13 days of sick leave a year, which accrue indefinitely, according to the DOL. They also earn 13 vacation days each of their first three years of service, 20 vacation days for their next 12 years, and 26 vacation days after their 15th year.

    And the benefits don't stop at retirement. Those hired after January 1, 1984 can participate in the three-tiered Federal Retirement System.

    Still, nearly 40 percent of government employees told they are dissatisfied with their spot on the government's pay scale. One-in-four were not given a raise last year and 86 percent did not see a bonus.

    But do typical government workers really make that much less? It depends on the occupation. The following list compares average salaries in the public sector with nationwide averages, based on 2005 data from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Attorneyexternal link

  • Government average: $105,577
  • Nationwide average: $110,520
  • Financial Managerexternal link

  • Government average: $95,257
  • Nationwide average: $96,620
  • Economistexternal link

  • Government average: $89,441
  • Nationwide average: $80,900
  • Microbiologistexternal link:

  • Government average: $80,798
  • Nationwide average: $63,360
  • Architectexternal link

  • Government average: $80,777
  • Nationwide average: $68,560
  • Accountantexternal link

  • Government average: $74,907
  • Nationwide average: $58,020
  • Librarianexternal link

  • Government average: $74,630
  • Nationwide average: $49,110
  • Human Resources Managerexternal link

  • Government average: $71,232
  • Nationwide average: $89,950
  • Nurseexternal link

  • Government average: $60,935
  • Nationwide average: $56,880
  • Tax examinerexternal link

  • Government average: $36,963
  • Nationwide average: $49,460
  • Medical Technicianexternal link

  • Government average: $35,526
  • Nationwide average: $33,170

  • © Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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