Feds’ satisfaction with pay dips after two-year freeze

Federal employees were less satisfied with their pay after the two-year pay freeze went into effect in 2010.

Feds gave their pay satisfaction a score of 63 out of 100 in 2010, but that score dropped to 59.1 in 2011, according to a report by the Partnership for Public Service released Tuesday. The findings were based on the Partnership’s Best Places to Work analysis.

Higher-ranking feds — those in the GS-13 to GS-15 levels — were most satisfied with their pay, with 74.1 percent of those feds responding positively about their pay, the report said.

Meanwhile, 57.9 percent of feds in the GS-1 to GS-12 levels expressed satisfaction with their pay.


More than 57 percent of the highest-ranking feds — Senior Executive Service members and other top managers — responded positively about their pay. This was the largest drop in satisfaction over pay of all groups.

An analysis earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office found federal employees overall made about 16 percent more than private-sector workers. Feds with a high school diploma or less made more than the private sector, while feds with professional or doctorate degrees actually made less than their private-sector counterparts

Agencies with the feds most satisfied with their pay were:

  1. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  3. NASA
  4. Office of Personnel Management
  5. Environmental Protection Agency
  6. General Services Administration
  7. State Department
  8. Small Business Administration
  9. Social Security Administration
  10. Education Department/Transportation Department

The agencies with the highest pay satisfaction generally are the same agencies ranked as the best places to work in the federal government.

The biggest dips in pay satisfaction came from the Labor Department, with 60 percent of employees satisfied with their pay, and the Transportation Security Administration, with less than 36 percent of employees satisfied with their pay.

Overall, feds’ workplace satisfaction was down more than 6 percent from 2010 to 2011. Pay saw the second largest decrease in satisfaction from 2010. The largest satisfaction dip came in the category of family-friendly culture.

Although pay impacts overall job satisfaction, what’s more important for federal managers is to create “a great workplace environment,” the report said.

“Pay matters and is a concern for federal employees, but meaningful work and leaders who empower and motivate employees have a bigger impact on overall job satisfaction and commitment,” the report said.


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