DENVER – As state and federal lawmakers grapple with anemic private sector job creation and widening budget gaps, fiscal hawks often cite the growing number of public sector bureaucrats — and what they see as their excessive compensation packages — as one place policymakers should look to pare back runaway government spending.
And at least one recently released national public opinion survey suggests that the public may agree.
According to a poll released Sunday by Rasmussen Reports, a majority of Americans believe that government employees are paid more and work less than those in the private sector. And some two-thirds, 67 percent, say that bureaucrats also enjoy more job security than their private sector counterparts.
By comparison, just 5 percent of those polled viewed government employees as harder workers than those in the private sector, and only 9 percent said that those in the private sector have more job security than public employees.
A larger percentage of those who work for a private company, 76 percent, viewed private sector employees as harder workers than those employed by government.
Surprisingly, it appears that many government employees also share that view. When asked, “Who works harder, government workers or workers in the private sector?”, nearly half of those who identified themselves as government workers, 48 percent, said private sector employees work harder, while just 5 percent said that those in government worked harder.
The results were consistent across political party lines, with a majority of Republicans (83 percent), Democrats (52 percent) and those not affiliated with either major political party (62 percent) all agreeing that those in the private sector work harder than those employed by the government.
A majority of Republicans (63 percent) and unaffiliated respondents (51 percent) also held the view that government workers earned more annually than those employed privately. A plurality of Democrats (39 percent) also held that view.
The poll results also suggest that the public is wary of any further expansion of the public sector workforce.
A plurality of respondents, 47 percent, said it would be bad for the economy to add more government bureaucrats. Just 33 percent said hiring more government employees would improve the economy.
T.Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the free-market advocacy group Compass Colorado, said the survey results demonstrate public opposition to the idea that policymakers can kickstart the economy with more so-called “stimulus” spending.
“Americans know that adding more bureaucrats to the federal dole will only hurt our economic recovery,” said Houlton. “Unfortunately, President Obama and his congressional allies have proven their commitment to raising taxes to expand an already bloated federal government time and time again.”
The Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults was conducted from December 1 to December 2, and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.