If you work for the government, you either drive a Bentley and spend your weekends in the Hamptons–or you work a weekend job just to scrap together enough pennies to make your rent payment, depending on whether a conservative or liberal is telling the story.
Extreme depictions are always fun, but looking at the numbers can balance perspectives.
USA Today published a report in December, and another in March, showing that federal workers earn more than private-sector workers for the same job, and more federal workers than ever before are earning six-figure salaries.
But the narrative’s a bit different when you get down to the state level, depending on where you’re looking. After several years of steady growth, average pay for most Virginia state workers has leveled off over the last three years as the state has struggled with dipping revenues.
On the other hand, a database from the state’s HR agency shows the average pay for most of Virginia’s state employees is still a bit higher than average pay for employees of private companies.
But analysts should be careful they’re not comparing apples to oranges. The highest salaries in the database are paid to university professors and a lot of those funds come from private sources. Additionally, the public and private arenas differ somewhat in what types of jobs they offer.
Right now, University of Virginia Provost Arthur Garson’s $706,800 salary makes him the highest-paid Virginia employee. The highest-paid non-university employee is Meredith Cary, who earns $260,000 as a psychiatrist for the Department of Corrections.