Your Aug. 13 editorial "Wider government, private pay gap explodes old myth" has it wrong. The data you use come from broad information about our economy collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for a variety of uses, but are not designed to measure labor costs.
In fact, BEA cautions that its information distorts federal compensation levels compared to the private sector for several reasons. Among them are that the mix of occupations in the federal sector is much different than the entire private sector, and that the government has far more professional positions, with on-average higher education levels.
The definitive data on public and private sector pay come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is designed to measure labor costs. BLS compares similar jobs in the private and federal sectors in the same geographic area. Under that analysis, which has been accepted by Democratic and Republican administrations, federal employees earn an average of 22 percent less than their private sector counterparts.
As you acknowledge, federal employees every day perform a variety of vital tasks for the American people. It is a disservice to them and their commitment to our nation to assign to them incorrect and misleading compensation information.
Colleen M. Kelley
National Treasury Employees Union