Government Employees Work 150 Hours Less Per Year

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


And we’re not just talking teachers. That’s one of the conclusions of from a study conducted by Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine.

 If public-sector employees just worked as many hours as their private counterparts, governments at all levels could save more than $100 billion in annual labor costs.

During a typical workweek, private-sector employees work about 41.4 hours. Federal workers, by contrast, put in 38.7 hours, and state and local government employees work 38.1 hours. In a calendar year, private-sector employees work the equivalent of 3.8 more 40-hour workweeks than federal employees and 4.7 more weeks than state and local government workers. Put another way, private employees spend around an extra month working each year compared with public employees. If the public sector worked that additional month, governments could theoretically save around $130 billion in annual labor costs without reducing services.

The Obama administration has called for more federal aid—on top of the $250 billion doled out in the 2009 Recovery Act—to help keep state and local government payrolls near prerecession levels.

Based on the most detailed and objective data set available, the private sector really does work more than the public sector. This fact may hold different lessons for different people, but our own take is simple: Before we ask private-sector employees to work more to support government, government itself should work as much as the private sector.

  • Dennis X

    I guess cause two right wing hacks say so. State workers work 160 per month, 40 hours a week and make ax. 25 to 40 % less than their private sector counter parts. Also, they pay for their pension and medical. Talk about class warfare.

    • Raymond in DC

      Government workers, except in a few categories, consistently earn more in salary and benefits than their private sector counterparts. That's been the case for many years. In some states like Illinois and California the disparity is egregious. I spent 30 years with the Federal government, the last 25 as a computer specialist and I definitely earned more than those in the private sector doing similar work. I had it good and I at least acknowledge it.

      • Dennis X

        Fedral works pay in recent years has risen to the level of their private counter parts. City workers have always been paid well, they inculde police and firemen. However, State workers are still under paid.

  • W. C. Taqiyya

    This is a very disappointing post Mr. Greenfield. It is disappointing because it is completely beside the point. No, it's not just beside the point, it serves to promote a false narrative. Speaking of 'productivity' and government workers as if the two were connected is wrong and foolish. And you know better. Government workers are 100% subsidized with money collected by the state from the real productive workers. Thus, by definition, the 'productivity' of government workers is zero. Actually, it is much worse than that. In practice, government workers reduce productivity. They encourage and reward failure, they nurture every conceivable impediment to productivity and are a blight on every industry and institution they touch. And they touch them all. It's not just the burdens of regulations and taxes, every time the government subsidizes anything, and it subsidizes most of the economic activity in the country, it is automatically less productive. Your post advocates a course of action which is not desirable, why would anyone want the government to do more, when the bulk of what they do is wasteful, fraudulent and harmful? Your post advocates a theme that is closely related to the false idea that government workers pay taxes and are thereby justified. That they spit a few dollars back to the IRS or shuffle a few more papers from one place to another justifies nothing. And you say they should do more? Nonsense. The federal work force should be dramatically reduced and the role of the centralized government severely restricted. The States and local government can handle what they need to handle as judged by their inhabitants and as circumscribed by their Constitutions. The resultant savings and increased productivity would be off the chart. Thank you.

    • Dennis X

      How is the view from your a–? Great, have the private sector build roads where ever they want? State workers produce nothing, then do your own licenses, build your own roads, hell you don't permits. In So. Cal when the 405 was closed for repairs business people were crying about lack of access, but I thought you builder everything and you didn't need government. What about all the businesses that work with and are paid by State Gov. i.e. contractors, sub contractors etc. State workers pay income, capital gain, state, local, and gas and property taxes like everyone else. How bout you just give me back all the money (plus little interest) that I've paid to SS, Medicare and pension. If not it =theft.

      • W. C. Taqiyya

        I'm sorry for your reading comprehension disability. But, thanks for proving what we get when people are convinced nothing can be accomplished without government. Yes, the government makes everything, therefore nothing can exist without it. Sublime logic.

        • Dennis X

          Sorry about your inability to understand what is written. I never said that goverment makes everything. There should be a balance between the private sector and goverment. You say you have no need at all for goverment. Hope you know some ghost busters, cause who you going to call. Your view is also an insult to the men and women in uniform who give up their lives so that you can be so ignorant.

          • WSG

            Name calling is so grade school and so expected. Zero income and wealth is produced by the government as EVERY penny any gov't runs on is by definition extracted from the private sector. AT best gov't redistributes other peoples' money and most gov'ts do that VERY POORLY . The US and many state gov'ts are unsustainable as they are currently – UNCONSTITUTIONALLY operated !!! EVERY expansion of gov't limits the FREEDOM of productive citizens and weakens the private sector further – which is exactly the intent of the Radicals in the Progressive movement.

  • john spielman

    most "gubbament" jobs are a waste of tax dollars. For example there should be NO federal dept of education programs because these programs are all duplicate of the state's. The feds should only be involved in areas that the states do not have control

    • Mary Sue

      Canada never needed a fed. dept. of Education. Not even the commiest of commies, Trudeau, ever put that in. I never understood the US's liberals' need to have one.

    • Richard J

      Government programs and departments are created when the "people" scream for the government to do more. I agree there are programs that can be eliminated, but until the "people" decide they want to do it themselves, it will not happen.

  • Thomas Wells

    Work? If drinking coffee and going to meaningless meetings is "work", the gummint is "working" itself to death.

  • victor

    Government employees' schedule:

    5 days a week, never work on week-end and if so, then it's double overtime pay//
    Flex time/ 8:15 to 4:45/ 2 official breaks/ many other unofficial coffee breaks/ Lunch/

    During working hours, many hours of paper shuffling to justify existence on a desk/
    During the day send endless stream of e-mail jokes and other e-mails deemed funny and interesting to friends and family/
    Benefits: massive discounts on healthcare benefits including after retirement, Paternity leave for expecting fathers, of course extended maternity leave for women, paid sick leave and extended sick leave while reserving the job upon return, could be months
    Inflated salaries (average about $110,000.00), excellent retirement benefits, bonuses, 30 day vacations , all national holidays off and paid.
    Early retirement and double dipping another income with another job with ………the government.

    If you don't believe it, just look at the lifestyle of those who live in the Washington, D.C. area. I know I live there.

    Lots more, but that's it for now.

    • Dennis X

      Movin to D.C.!

    • Richard J

      First off, the "lifestyle" you are pointing to in D.C. are the "elected" politicians.

      Me. Arrive at work 0630, leave work at 1600 (4pm) M-F. OT? Fat chance. Not allowed. Weekends? If needed and it is straight time. Holidays off. Yep, Congress, the voice of the people, voted for them. Flex time, well, depending on your job, yes, but you still have to put in your hours and have to be at work during core hours (normally a 4 or 5 hour block). Breaks? Maybe if you are a blue collar union workers, otherwise, one 30 minute unpaid meal break. No other breaks are mandated. Vacations. Employee has 0-3 years gets 13 days a year. Has 3-15 years gets 20 days a year. Has 15+ years gets 26 days a year which is the max. Nobody gets 30 days paid vacation a year except the military. Sick leave. Yep, 13 days a year. Extended sick leave? As long as fellow workers donate some of their vacation time then yes, you can stay out longer. Kind of nice knowing you have a job after laying in traction for 6 months because some private sector employee had a little too much to drink at the office party and slammed into you. Alcohol is not allowed at government parties or even in government offices. Extended maternity leave for women, same as sick leave, somebody has to donate their leave. For fathers? Don't know, but then I had my children 30 years ago. But it sounds like a great idea, at least for the first two weeks when the mother cannot get around. Inflated salaries? Your quoting outdated and debunked data. The original author double counted to get to that number, e.g. You get paid X dollars a years, say $57k which is the real average SALARY. Then they added up vacation time, sick leave, holidays and added those to the salary. Problems being is that the salary already includes those items. Health benefits, don't know, get mine elsewhere where it is cheaper. Government health, family of four, $307 dollar a pay period, or $665 a month. And that is not even the Cadillac plan. I save about $225 a month getting the same elsewhere. Retirement pay., lets see, if you retire at 20 years and your last pay was $57k a year, your retirement would be $11400 a year, or $950 a month, BEFORE taxes. Or, it you go for the full 20 years, the same pay would be $17100 a year or $1425 a month, again, before taxes. Double dipping? That is against federal law so I don't know where you are getting that unless you are counting retired employees going to work for a private firm in D.C. that deals with the government, and that is not double dipping.

      From a fed worker visiting his family on vacation in New Orleans.

      • Richard J

        That second retirement figure was supposed to be for 30 years, not 20 again.

  • Mary Sue

    This is the entitlement mentality the unions have created, fostered and nurtured.