Government Employees Compared to Private-Sector Employees

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #169228

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    A study from the Heritage Foundation

    Title: Government Employees Work Less Than Private-Sector Employees
    Author Jason Richwine

    Abstract:
    The stereotype of the underworked government employee is frequently invoked in criticisms of public-sector employment. But does the average public employee really work less than the average private employee? To provide an objective answer, this paper uses the American Time Use Survey, which produces a detailed listing of personal activities on a given day for each respondent. Based on this dataset, government employees work around three fewer hours per week and roughly one less month per year than private-sector workers. Substantial differences in work time persist even after controlling for occupational and skill differences between sectors. The underworked government employee should be of concern to taxpayers who expect private-sector levels of work in the public sector in exchange for private-sector levels of compensation.

    Key points

    • Critics of public-sector employment charge that government employees work less than private-sector employees. Prior studies measuring work time based on “contract hours” or on self-reports are insufficient to establish whether this is true.
    • The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) provides an objective, precise, and much more reliable method for evaluating the claim. The ATUS is a “time diary” dataset that catalogues each respondent’s activities, including work time, during a full 24-hour day.
    • Analysis of the ATUS indicates that government employees work around three fewer hours per week and roughly one less month per year than privatesector workers.
    • Substantial differences in work time persist even after controlling for occupational and skill differences between sectors.
    • Lawmakers should ensure that public employees’ work time and compensation are generally in line with those of private-sector employees.

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  • #169245

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Some detail on how the Heritage Foundation used the ATUS numbers to gain thier results

  • #169243

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Commentary from Nextgov:

    There have been several studies that claim federal employees are paid higher salaries than those in the private sector. Now, a new study by the Heritage Foundation claims that not only are feds overpaid, they work fewer hours – approximately one whole month less per year on average – than their private sector peers.

    The study, released Tuesday, found that federal workers work an average of 38.7 hours per week, roughly three hours less than the private sector average of 41.4 hours. That means that in one work year, federal employees work about 153 hours less — approximately one month less – than their private sector counterparts, Heritage found.

    The data is based on the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2003 to 2010. Heritage determined the 40-hour workweek by dividing total annual work hours by 40, accounting for factors like vacation and sick leave.

  • #169241

    Peter Sperry
    Participant

    Interesting. I suspect an additional control for the more cumbersome internal control proceedures commonly found in government at all levels would show that govies spend a great deal more time thant the private sector awaiting approval or instructions, whithout which they may be statutorily or regulatorily limited in their ability to proceed with a given project. Although most of us can and do make meaningful efforts to fill this wait time with productive work, it can be a challange. Reexamne internal controls and approval processes and most government employees will more than fill a 40 hour week with productive work.

  • #169239

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Another area that was APPARENTLY lacking was the time spent in training whether getting required certification or … Yes I know that “generally speaking” MOST private sector jobs require the employee to have the required training/certification prior to hiring where that isn’t always true in the public sector…

    After reading the 6 page report, I came to the conclusion that in a lot of cases the study was attempting to compare apples and oranges. NOT terribly surprised knowing the general agenda of the Heritage Foundation.

  • #169237

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    Almost want to say DUH!

    Commentary From Govexec.com

    Feds fight back against claim they work less

    Federal employees are arguing that a new study by the Heritage Foundation is flawed in its conclusion that they are not only overpaid but also underworked when compared with their private sector peers.

    A study Heritage released Tuesday found that federal employees work an average of 38.7 hours per week, roughly three hours less than the private sector average of 41.4 hours. That means that in one work year, federal employees work about 153 hours less — or one month less — than their private sector counterparts, the report stated.

    Heritage used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey from 2003 to 2010.

    But nearly every federal employee who commented on Nextgov’s story about the report argued that Heritage relied on faulty data, in part because not only are most federal employees not eligible for overtime pay, but most are required to document no more than 40 hours per work week, regardless of whether they worked any overtime. Most argued that they do work additional hours each week, whether in the office or teleworking.

  • #169235

    Henry Brown
    Participant

    More Commentary from FederalNewsRadio:
    Feds work a month less per year than private sector, Heritage report finds

    Thursday – 9/13/2012, 10:30am EDT
    By Jolie Lee

    More Reports
    Federal employees work about a month less per year than private sector workers, according to a report by conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

    The report found federal employees work on average of 38.7 hours a week, compared with 41.4 hours per week in the private sector. That difference adds up to 3.8 fewer weeks per year that feds work compared with private sector workers.

    “From a budgetary perspective, shorter work hours in the public sector may cause governments to be less efficient in converting tax dollars into public services. More broadly, the perception that government employees do not work as hard as private-sector employees runs counter to the spirit of public service,” according to the report.

  • #169233

    William Lim
    Participant

    The critical (and flawed) assumption in the study: “private-sector levels of work in the public sector in exchange for private-sector levels of compensation.” Public sector compensation is NOT commensurate with the private sector across the board, especially now when governments are freezing salaries, slashing pensions, increasing health insurance required contributions, and capping sick/vacation time payouts.

  • #169231

    Paul L. Rau
    Participant

    I am having trouble with the use of hours at work as a measurement of how much one works. There are a number of people in the private sector and I know of many in government who simply keep a chair warm for 8 hours a day, and do little work at all.

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