The government's own method of measuring pay for jobs it deems comparable shows a substantial pay gap in favor of the private sector. Other studies, using different methods and different sets of data, have reached the opposite conclusion.
The average federal worker was 47.1 years old with 13.8 years of government service in 2012, while less than 1 percent had no high school diploma, 26 percent had just that diploma, slightly less than half had at least a four-year college degree, and the rest had some sort of post-high-school education. The concentration of federal employees in professional and administrative positions also has increased in recent years, compared with blue-collar and other lower-paying federal jobs.
The latest count put the number of full-time, permanent non-seasonal federal workers at 1,850,311. That comes to 5.894 federal employees per 1,000 Americans in fiscal 2012, down slightly from 2010 and 2011, but still above the 5.497 number of 2008.
The report does not include temporary, seasonal or part-time employees whose inclusion in other types of counts puts the total federal workforce at around 2.1 million. Even those counts commonly exclude certain categories of employees, most numerously the more than 500,000 in the self-funding U.S. Postal Service.