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  • On "Costless" Benefits for Public Workers

    In our work on public sector compensation, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute and I have routinely counted enhanced job security as a benefit for public workers, and we have tried to quantify just how valuable it can be. Some critics have argued that public workers actually have no … More

    The Secrets of Acquiring Federal Employment

    According to public employees’ unions, federal employees are substantially underpaid, and this year’s pay freeze is just one more slight against workers who could easily earn much more outside the government. It is curious, then, that so many people without federal jobs are lining up for them, apparently hoping to … More

    OPM Director John Berry’s Mistaken Statements to Congress

    Even the more jaded observers of Washington politics had to be disappointed with the performance of federal pay defenders during yesterday’s House Oversight Committee hearing. As was written on Monday, defenders had to deal with a mountain of empirical evidence that federal workers are paid above-market compensation, and I was … More

    Are Federal Workers Overpaid? Watch Heritage vs the Unions Wednesday

    The Federal Times calls it a “steel cage match” in which “two wonks enter, one wonk leaves.” Congressional hearings are never that exciting, but Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing on federal pay does promise some spirited debate. At issue is how the federal government pays its civilian workers—and, more importantly, … More

    Do Government Workers Make More than Private Sector Workers?

    The Heritage Foundation has posted a new working paper that considers whether public workers in California are overpaid compared to their private sector counterparts. The paper’s findings are summarized today in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, coauthored by myself and AEI’s Andrew Biggs. We argue that previous public-private comparisons at … More

    Left Still In Denial About Federal Worker Pay

    Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), does not like President Obama’s call for a two-year pay freeze.  He writes: [The freeze]…will only enlarge the degree to which federal pay lags that of the private sector (a gap of 22%, according to the federal pay agent’s report. See … More

    Federal Paychecks Are Outsized

    In an article titled “Scapegoating Federal Pay,” Paul Waldman of The American Prospect predicts that we will hear much more in the coming months about “outsized federal paychecks.” I hope he is right. The labor economics literature, going back more than two decades, is clear that federal workers enjoy a … More

    Florida’s Dubious Class-Size Caps

    Lost amid the national election coverage Tuesday night was the defeat of an important ballot initiative in Florida. Amendment 8 would have relaxed the state’s strict caps on class size, adding three to five students per class depending on grade level. (The amendment received about 55 percent of the vote, … More

    The Truth Behind Superman

    The documentary film Waiting for Superman follows five children and their families as they struggle to find educational opportunities.  Fed up with the ineffective public schools in their communities, but unable to freely transfer their tax dollars to a school of their choice, the families enter lotteries for the few … More

    Charter Schools Rise in Katrina’s Wake

    Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than just buildings. Left with scarce resources and personnel, local government in New Orleans became weak and ineffective in the aftermath of the flooding. Five years later, the rebuilding of New Orleans is far from complete, but reformers can point to at least one major accomplishment: … More