Originally posted on July 19, 2010 on FreedomWorks’ website.

While private sector workers across the country are struggling with abnormally high unemployment rates, federal government employees in Washington are likely to be bewildered by the current economic downturn. In fact, a Politico article released today confirmed that about half of “Washington elites” who live in the D.C. metro area and work in politics or policy fields claim that the country and the economy are headed in the right direction—compared to less than 25 percent of the general population. Since the federal government directly employs roughly one-third of citizens in the D.C. metro area, a large disconnect exists between these Washington elites and the general public. Despite the fact that America remains in a severe economic crisis, federal government employment is booming in the nation’s capital. According  to the Politico article,

The massive expansion of government under President Barack Obama has basically guaranteed a robust job market for policy professionals, regulators and contractors for years to come. The housing market, boosted by the large number of high-income earners in the area, many working in politics and government, is easily outpacing the markets in most of the country.

Since government workers’ salaries are funded by taxpayers or borrowed out of the economy, the trend of overpaying federal employees is unsustainable. While needed federal employees should be paid sensibly, it is hard to justify that taxpayers in the private sector who on average make half as much are forced to foot the outrageous bill.  At a time when private sector workers are constantly facing layoffs and pay cuts, all federal government employees received a 2 percent pay raise in 2010.

It’s no wonder that the “Washington elites” face a reality gap that makes it near impossible to understand the severity of the economic crisis outside of the Beltway. With the federal government so far in debt, one reasonable savings solution isto close the pay gap between federal and private sector workers by cutting lavish federal wages and eliminating wasteful government positions. While federal employees in Washington may remain oblivious to the current economic decline, private sector workers who pay their salaries are likely to know the pain of economic hardship all too well.