Eric Bolling appeared on Fox News today to comment on the growth of government and claimed that "for the exact same job -- I'm not talking apples and oranges" -- federal employees make twice as much in salary and benefits as private employees. In fact, the comparison he's pushing is indeed of the apples to oranges variety.
Bolling said on America's Newsroom:
BOLLING: USA Today a couple weeks ago - we've cited this study time and time again -- USA Today came out and said, you know, if you work for the federal government, you make on average $123,000 a year - that's salary and benefits and everything they lump in. If you work for the private sector for the exact same job - I'm not talking apples and oranges - we're talking landscaper vs. landscaper. Clergyman vs. clergyman. Cook vs. cook. You make less than 60 grand all year.
Actually, the USA Today report he cites used averages for all federal civil servants and all private workers and did not compare similar positions.
The report stated: "Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years." Politifact.com also noted that the USA Today report "does not compare the salaries of people working in specific federal jobs to similar positions in the private sector." Politifact.com added:
The BEA notes that its private-sector data includes employees of all professions. That means everything from minimum-wage jobs to the salaries of chief executive officers. Federal employees typically work in professional occupations that pay more, such as accountants, attorneys and economists, according to Congressional Budget Office research.
Indeed, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the source for USA Today's data, explains that "There are a number of factors that explain why average compensation for federal government non-postal civilian employees is higher than average compensation for private-sector employees," including the fact that "skill levels and educational attainment tend to be higher, on average, for federal government civilian employees than for private-sector employees because of the occupational requirements in the federal government" and "there has been a shift in federal employment toward higher-skilled, higher-paid positions because lower-skilled (and lower-paid) positions have been contracted out to private industries."
In short, the USA Today article tells us that people working different jobs receive different levels of compensation, and not much more. Without a detailed analysis, we can't tell whether federal employees make twice as much as private workers doing "the exact same job." It's a classic case of an apples to oranges comparison.
From the September 22 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom: