The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released numbers showing federal pay in 2010 lagged behind private sector pay by 24 percent.
The gap has widened by two points since 2009, according to The Federal Times.
The statistics were presented at a meeting of the Federal Salary Council, which will make recommendations to President Barack Obama about possible pay raises for federal workers for 2012, according to a report on Nextgov.
Federal worker union representatives argued the statistics show federal workers are not overpaid, contrary to small-government advocates and even a majority of Americans, according to a Washington Post poll.
However, free-market think tank Cato Institute disputed the statistics and called for an independent, outside audit to determine federal pay. In a weak economy, it’s unlikely private-sector wages would continue to be higher than federal workers, said Chris Edwards, Cato’s director of tax policy.
Edwards also said Republicans, who recently regained a majority in the House of Representatives, could hold hearings on federal compensation, Federal Times reports.
As for why the gap widened this year, Nextgov reports that some officials believe personnel shifts from the Defense Department’s base realignment and closure plan might have played a role.
Last month, the Office of Personnel Management released a report showing pay raises for senior civil servants had stalled, hitting their lowest levels in five years.