Showing some semblance of sense, President Obama proposed a two-year freeze on salaries for most federal workers yesterday. (Excluding those in the military, who account for roughly half the workforce.) This cancels their scheduled 1.4% pay increase in 2011.

As Josh Barro of the Manhattan Institute noted in February, “private-sector employment [has fallen] sharply in the last two years, [while] the public-sector, civilian workforce continued growing until mid-2008. It has since remained essentially flat. As a result, while private-employment rolls are nearly 7 percent smaller than they were three years ago, public-employment rolls have grown by nearly 2 percent.[1] (Approximately 17 percent of U.S. civilian employment is in the public sector.)”

Barro updated his critique in light of Obama’s recent announcement. The President’s solution is a step in the right direction, but “federal workers only account for about 10 percent of the public sector civilian workforce. The real battle is going to be at the state and local level.” When one looks at the backlash against leaders like NJ Gov. Chris Christie, who have cut state and local budgets, it’s quite evident that it will be a heated battle.

Hopefully, though, measures like this will restore the title ‘civil servant’ – someone who sacrifices a very competitive salary for job security (as they used to) – for those who work on behalf of our tax dollars.


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