Unexpectedly Intriguing!
13 January 2010

How many federal government employees will earn between $70,000 and $75,000 in 2010?

Percentage Distribution of Federal Employees' by Adjusted Base Salary*, 2008 vs 2010 Now that we've sampled the income distribution of federal employees in 2008, we can find out pretty easily! We started by first taking into account the two annual pay raises that the civilian employees of the U.S. federal government received in Fiscal Year 2009 (3.9%) and will receive in Fiscal Year 2010 (2.0%). We then gave every member of our sample of federal employees named "Smith" those same raises to project what the income distribution for federal employees would be for 2010. The results of that math are presented in the accompanying chart.

We'll note that in doing this math, we find that the results of our sampled data is very close to those of the entire population of the U.S. federal government's civilian employees. We find that with a 3.9% raise from 2008's pay levels, the average federal salary in 2009 for our sample of federal employees named "Smith" is $70,958, which is a difference of just $252, or 0.35%, from the $71,206 figure reported by USA Today in December 2009.

We next created a mathematical model of the resulting distribution of income using the 2-D function finder at ZunZun, our preferred online tool for regression analysis. In doing that regression analysis, we split the model into two parts: a lower range for modeling the 0th through 50th percentiles of the federal government's civilian employee income earners and an upper range for modeling the 50th through 100th percentiles.

Next, we used the formulas we generated to build the tool below for estimating the number of federal employees who fall between the indicated upper and lower limits for the salary range.

Why? So you won't have to go to the same kind of trouble to figure out how many civilian employees of the federal government there are within a particular income range!

Federal Employee Salary Range Data
Input Data Lower Limit Upper Limit
Lower and Upper Limits of Salary Range

Number of Federal Government Civilian Employees
Results Values
Estimated Number of Federal Employees Within Indicated Salary Range

Using our tool with the default data, we find the answer to the question we asked at the beginning of this post is 95,245. Or, as it happens, about 4.7% of all approximately two million civilian employees of the U.S. federal government.

Update 10 February 2010: Updated to account for 2.15 million employees on the federal government's payroll in 2010!

That change then increases the approximate number of federal government employees earning from $70,000 to $75,000 in 2010 to 102,388.

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About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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