A new CBO study indicates that the federal government pays slightly more in wages and significantly more in benefits than the private sector, except for those with a professional or doctoral degree. Highly educated workers make about 23 percent less in government. Kevin Drum's take:
Federal jobs have always been plum positions for blue-collar workers, while for highly-educated professionals it's something you do if you either want a lot of job security or are really dedicated to public service. If you're a doctor or a lawyer, you can almost certainly do better in private practice than you can working for the government.
Suzy Khimm complicates this:
The highest-paid White House advisers made $172,200 last year, as Derek Thompson points out, and it’s reasonable to assume that former Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag makes significantly more at his new job at Citigroup. Though, as Modeled Behavior rightly notes, his compensation may be higher because of his White House experience, revealing the latent benefit of federal employment for higher-educated workers who leave for the private sector.
Tim Carney focuses on the revolving door:
How many PhDs cash out to those they were supposed to be regulating? Do the added long-term earnings from a stint in government service make up for the short-term sacrifice? The CBO study doesn't address that, but the broad picture is this: Government is nice work if you can get it.