Shutdown aside, federal-worker incomes are already taking a hit in the states

September 30, 2013

Federal-employee earnings shrank an average of 0.8 percent in the states in the second quarter of the year. (Photo credit: Maddie Meyer, The Washington Post)

The possibility of a government shutdown tonight threatens the livelihoods of at least some of the more than 800,000 federal workers across the nation. But, for most of them in the states, their incomes were already falling.

Personal income grew an average of 1.0 percent in the second quarter of the year, according to a new Commerce Department report. But that wasn’t so for the thousands of civilian federal workers dispersed among the states. For them, earnings dropped an average of 0.8 percent. (Military earnings rose 0.2 percent and state and local government earnings were essentially unchanged.)

Federal workers in only nine states saw earnings growth from the first to the second quarter of 2013. Those in Nevada saw the biggest gains, of 1.4 percent, followed by federal workers in Arizona and Idaho who saw earnings growth of 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent. Earnings rose less than 0.2 percent for those in Vermont, California, Wisconsin, Maryland, Oklahoma and Maine. Income for federal workers in Montana and Alaska shrank the most, contracting 2.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

The news that federal-employee earnings dropped in the second quarter is really just the latest in a series of hits for the sector, as The Post’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Lisa Rein explain.

The threat of an extended loss of pay [in the event of a shutdown] is hitting a workforce already battered by a three-year wage freeze, months of furloughs forced by the budget cuts known as sequestration and a dimmed perception of government work among many Americans.

Here’s a look at how overall personal income changed in the states from the first to the second quarters:


(Credit: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Commerce Department.)
Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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