Federal Employee Compensation Averages More Than $126,000
By Frank Bass and Timothy R. Homan -
October 20, 2011 "Bloomberg" -- Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.
The figures demonstrate how the nation’s political and financial classes are prospering as the economy struggles with unemployment above 9 percent and thousands of Americans protest in the streets against income disparity, said Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda, a Baltimore-based advocacy group trying to narrow the divide between rich and poor.
“There’s a gap that’s isolating
Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the
In recent years
“Wall Street has moved to K Street,” said Barbara Lang, president and chief executive officer of the DC Chamber of Commerce, referring to the Washington street that’s home to prominent lobbying firms. “Those two industries clearly have grown in our city.”
Still, household income fell even in
Median income in both metro areas has been falling since 2008, when it reached a record in each place. The 4.7 percent drop in Silicon Valley during that period was three times larger than the
The flow of federal dollars in and around the nation’s capital helped the region weather the economic slump better than most areas and is contributing to its recovery. The unemployment rate in the
“The region did experience a shorter, shallower recession than
Federal government spending for programs excluding Social Security and Medicare in fiscal year 2011, which ended on Sept. 30, rose to $2.38 trillion from $2.3 trillion the previous year.
Associate attorneys in the Washington area who have worked between one and eight years had a median salary of $186,250, compared with the national median for their peers of $123,521, according to a survey by the Washington-based National Association for Law Placement.
Lobbyists play a prominent role in the
The Washington suburbs are also home to government contractors such as Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the world’s largest defense company, and General Dynamics Corp. (GD), the Falls Church, Virginia-based maker of Abrams tanks and Gulfstream business jets.
With about 5.6 million residents, the
The Brownsville-Harlingen metro area in southeast
Such income inequality is on display in
“Even though we’ve got this very healthy group of government employees and contractors, there’s still a lot of people left behind,” said Douglas Besharov, a professor at the
To contact the reporters on this story: Frank Bass in