Public vs. Private Sector Compensation

There are 144 million wage and salary jobs in the United States. About 22 million, or 15%, of those are federal, state, and local government jobs. Provided in this section are data relating to the average compensation received by both government and private sector employees.

The data from this section are collected from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and include both wage and salary compensation and compensation in forms other than wages. This non-wage compensation includes employer contributions to employee pension and insurance funds and government social insurance funds such as social security and unemployment, all of which are important to consider when looking at the total compensation picture.

Unfortunately, while BEA can accurately report non-wage compensation for the private sector, the task is more difficult for state and local governments. This is because many governments provide employees with pension and retirement plans, the future liabilities of which, by many calculations, are not adequately funded by current government contributions to those plans.

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