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National and Global, United States

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And The Beltway Bandits Continue to Rake in the Dough!

These statistics should make you stand up and take notice. If you're like me, I'd sit down and have a Jack Daniels.

There may be 7.3 million Americans out of a job in this economy (in real terms, it's more like 20 million), but it’s happy days for federal employees. The number of civil servants making $100,000 or more has jumped over 46 percent since the start of the recession.

The most dramatic increase came in the Transportation Department, where the number of employees earning salaries of over $170,000 jumped from one to a whopping 1,690 in just a year and a half. The growth was triggered by rules that prevent top employees in a given department from making more than their bosses. In this case, when Congress raised the Federal Aviation Administrator's salary, it triggered raises for nearly 2,000 of his subordinates.

The Defense Department also saw a salary explosion when new merit-pay rules took effect—and there turned out to be a whole lot more merit around the Pentagon than Congress expected. The result was a five-fold increase in the number of defense officials earning $150,000 or more.

Across the board, the salary bonanza has pushed the average federal worker's pay to $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector.

Overall, the recession has been a boon for the Beltway crowd. The Washington metropolitan area received nearly 10 times as much stimulus money per capita as the national average, keeping the unemployment rate in the area at 6.2 percent, far below rates of other large cities—9.3 percent in New York; over 10 percent in Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles—and the national average of 10.2 percent.

Recovery Act funding alone has fed the creation of 407,000 government contract jobs—or two thirds of all jobs "created" under the Act—according to one independent analysis. And during a time when most businesses are downsizing, the federal government itself actually grew by 13,000 employees in the last year—the first increase since the 1970s.

And the trend continues. Last week's jobs report wasn't nearly so positive as it looked (because the stats were juked), but what little real job creation there was occurred almost entirely in the government and education sectors.

Another case were selfishness is not a VIRTUE. Make that two Jack Daniels...and hold the water.

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