Rasmussen: 58% Think Federal Employees Earn More Than Private Sector Workers

By on October 10, 2012 in Current Events, Pay & Benefits with 23 Comments

A Rasmussen survey released this week found that 58% of American adults surveyed believe that federal employees earn more money than private sector workers, and 64% said they believe private sector employees work harder than government employees.

The findings were from a national telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted on October 2-3 by Rasmussen Reports.

These survey results are not new; in fact, back in April, we highlighted a Rasmussen survey released at that time which had almost identical results to the same set of questions.

In that same article, we highlighted the results of our own non-scientific survey which asked the same set of questions as the Rasmussen survey. Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of the responses we received were nearly opposite on some questions, indicating that  most respondents, the majority of whom are current or former federal employees, felt they worked harder and also earned less than comparable private sector workers.

What is your position on these issues? Do the survey results reflect most Americans’ perceptions of the federal workforce accurately, or are the bogus?

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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  1. JEF says:

    95% of survey respondents don’t have sense enough to pound sand down a rathole.  You get what you pay for so lets hope that federal employee pay continues to be high enough to attract competent employees.     

  2. Ross200 says:

    I bet if a reliable pollster asked a scientifically valid sample of voters the question: ” Are consistent viewers of Fox News less intelligent than viewers of the other TV News Stations, the answer would be an overwhelming yes they are.  

  3. Hank says:

    Hey Mr.
    Smith, get your facts right, the question that Rasmussen asked said nothing
    about Federal Government employees. Even or supposed survey said nothing about
    Federal employees.

  4. Hank says:

    question begs to be asked if the public does in fact believe federal employees
    are over paid and don’t work as hard, then why do they believe this. They
    believe it because of the clap trap that comes out of Congress and most politicians,
    not from any personal knowledge or experience. Politicians like to use federal
    employees as a scrap goat for their own ineptitude of managing the federal bureaucracy.
    If Congress was paid based on performance, the Federal Government would save
    one heck of a lot of money.

  5. mediadoubter says:

    The problem with this whole issue is that they include “all” Federal Employees! This would include all congressmen and their staffs.

    If the beltway employees were eliminated from this calculation, I am sure you would see a more realistic comparrison.

  6. sandiegoret says:

    A. Who cares what most people from the general population think and who cares what most federal employees think on the subject. It’s a bogus question and none of the people surveyed have any objective ideal of the overall populations of workers–private and federal–and their work habits.  The most they have is a skewed sample that has no relationship to anything you want to say about the groups.

    B.  The most important perspective to remember about this question has to do with the most basic rule of comparing groups–on any attribute measured the differences within the groups are always greater than the differences between the groups.  So, what this means is that many private employees work harder than many federal employees and many federal employees work harder than many private employees.  It will vary greatly by job, mission, agency, management and individual workers.  

    So, there is nothing to be gained but encouraging additional prejudice and misunderstanding by asking questions like this.  Better we all work to find ways to work together as effectively as possible and that we learn to show mutual respect.

    • grannybunny says:

      And the poll, of course, by asking who works harder, assuming — without offering any option — that one group works harder than the other, forces people to take sides and encourages the prejudice and misunderstanding you decry.

  7. grannybunny says:

    It’s a Rasmussen poll, so it has zero credibility.  They do not poll a representative sample of the population, so the results of all their polls are skewed in the ideological direction they favor.  In fact, they make no attempt at even the appearance of polling legitimacy.  For example, the question about who works harder, Feds or private sector workers, does not provide an option for those who think both work equally as hard, likely the majority of respondents.

    • HRGuy71 says:

      Rasmussen is often among the most accurate polls. In 2008, it “got the result dead right.”  It surveys likely voters. It doesn’t provide the extra “oomph” to Democrats voting as is often done with the other polls.

      The big media organizations almost universally failed to give readers a final accurate prediction, with Newsweek coming in dead last, just behind polls for CBS/New York Times; Reuters/C-Span/Zogby and Gallup. http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfro

      • grannybunny says:

        Their survey techniques are not valid.  For example, they perform telephone surveys that only contact respondents with land lines.  They also — as already pointed out — do not construct their questions in a manner to elicit objective responses.  I used to perform surveys for the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago, one of the most highly-ranked survey organizations in the World and know that surveys — if not properly constructed and performed — are just another form of propaganda.  What’s the old expression?  There are 3 forms of deception:  lies, damned lies and statistics.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  The fact that Rasmussen was right once, when the odds were 50-50, is meaningless.

        • Ross200 says:

          Grannybunny, as usual you are correct.  After the 2010 Mid-Term Election, I went on the Rasmussen Website and compared their final polls for competitive US Senate Races and Governor Races with the actual results. In virtually every case, they underestimated the Democratic Candidates’ Vote.  My favorite Rasmussen Poll that they actually had the audacity to publish was one for the US Senate Race in Hawaii.  Virtually everyone ignore this race for good reason, Senator Inouye was going to win going away. The Rasmussen Poll had Inouye winning by 14%.   The actual result was Senator Inouye winning by a whopping 52% margin.  Whenever I see a Rasmussen Poll, I always add two percent to the Democratic Candidate’s Results and subtract two points from the Republican Candidate’s total. Of course, this may not even be enough. 
          The interesting aspect of polling this year is that many more voters have given up their land lines, and many individuals believe that this benefits the Republicans if you only conduct surveys using land lines.  Also, some pollsters have been slow to incorporate the 2010 Census Data into their polling  premises. I was rather shocked to read on the Gallup Website a few days ago that they had just decided to the increase in the number of the minorities surveyed to reflect the 2010 Census.  

      • Bill T. says:

        “Often among the most accurate polls”, what does that mean? “Often” does not even necessarily imply right more than wrong.

        There are good reasons to believe their polls are biased and inaccurate. Re: NYTimes 4 nov, 2010, for one source.

      • Fed Peasant says:

        I have more respect for weather forecasters.

  8. Bill T. says:

    90% of Americans have no idea what federal workers do.

  9. Fed Up! says:

    Just proves the principle of the “Big Lie”.  

    • HRGuy71 says:

      Actually, our colleagues at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reached the same conclusion as the Rasmussen poll. (http://www.fedsmith.com/2012/0… So, while you may disagree with how the federal statisticians came up with the figures, the public perception is not without any basis.

      But, if you are suspicious of these figures, perhaps you are also suspicious of the federal statisticians who found that the unemployment rate is now lower, despite not having enough jobs created to maintain the existing rate of unemployment in the private sector. It could, of course, have been political pressure to come up with the right answer but, if we are suspicious, we should be consistent in our doubts.

      • $31427826 says:

         Actually your colleagues at BEA are comparing apples and oranges.  You cannot, I repeat you cannot use average wages as a comparison.  By doing so you are skewing statistics towards the federal wage.  The fed workforce has a higher educational level and many do tasks that are inherent to government work only.

      • Fed Peasant says:

        One day they will contract out your position.  The stats justify it….LOL!!!

  10. YAG says:

    What percent believe the President is not a U.S. citizen? That man and dinosaurs co-existed? That space aliens live amongst us? Of what value is this poll?