Unexpectedly Intriguing!
January 14, 2010

Having now created a tool for estimating how many federal employees will fall within a given range of income for 2010, we thought we might go the extra mile and show approximately how many of the U.S. government's two-million strong civilian labor force fall into each $100 interval from $0 through $300,000.

Our chart visualizing the distribution of federal employee salaries for 2010 is below:

Estimated Number of Federal Employees vs Projected 2010 Adjusted Base Salary

We find that very few employees of the federal government are likely to make less than $21,000, while the greatest concentration will be clustered between $42,000 and $43,000.

The median income for federal employees in 2010 is roughly $63,915 while the average income is $72,377.

Looking up the income scale, we find that based upon the 2008 sample of federal employees named "Smith" that we used to create our income distribution model and the average percentage raises of 3.9% for 2009 and 2.0% for 2010, we would project that just over 30,000 federal employees would make more than $170,000 in 2010.

But the real question is how many federal employees will actually make $170,000 or more in 2010. If there is a significant difference between the actual figure and our projected figure of 30,000, that would be an indication that the federal government's pay scales are being significantly skewed to favor its top paid staff.

After all, with just a 0.8% difference in the inflation-adjusted value of a U.S. dollar between 2008 and 2010, the large, progressively greater rightward shift in the distribution of the upper echelons of income for federal employees between 2008 to 2010 indicates a rather significant increase in the income inequality of both the federal government's employees and the United States.

Percentage Distribution of Federal Employees' by Adjusted Base Salary*, 2008 vs 2010

Who knew that the federal government's high salaries and regular raises were such a contributing factor to a perceived problem that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described as a "disturbing trend"?!

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