[Excerpt] An issue for Congress and state and local governments is whether the pay and benefits of public workers are comparable to those of workers in the private sector. The effect of the recession that officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 on government budgets increased the interest of policy makers in the compensation of public sector employees. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal deficit has fallen since FY2009. But, CBO projects that the deficit for FY2014 will be $514 billion. Several state and local governments also face budget shortfalls. Among the ways to reduce budget deficits, policy makers are considering the pay and benefits of public sector employees.
This report begins with an analysis of the trends in employment in the private and public sectors. The public sector is separated into employees of the federal government, state governments, and local governments. Next, the report analyzes selected characteristics of private and public sector workers. These characteristics are often used in comparisons of the compensation of different workers. The report does not compare the actual pay or benefits of private and public sector workers or compare the characteristics of workers to try to explain any differences in the pay or benefits of private and public sector workers.