The Federal Workforce and Our Economic Future

From an op-ed in today’s WSJ by AEI President Arthur Brooks:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the last year the federal government added 86,000 permanent (non-Census) jobs to the rolls. And high-paying jobs at that: The number of federal salaries over $100,000 per year has increased by nearly 50% since the beginning of the recession. Today, the average federal worker earns 77% more than the average private-sector worker, according to a USA Today analysis of data from the federal Office of Personnel Management. To pay for bigger government, the private sector will bear a heavier tax burden far into the future, suppressing the innovation and entrepreneurship that creates growth and real opportunity, not to mention the revenue that pays for everything else in the first place.

If these trends are not reversed, it is hard to see how our culture of free enterprise will not change. More and more Americans, especially younger Americans, will grow accustomed to a system in which the government pays better wages, offers the best job protection, allows the earliest retirement, and guarantees the most lavish pensions. Against such competition, more and more young, would-be entrepreneurs will inevitably choose the safety and comfort of government employment—and do so with all the drive that is generally thought to be “good enough” for that kind of work.