Capitol Hill Republicans are generally more generous bosses than Democrats, and members of Congress from rural areas typically pay staffers more than citified members of Congress.
That, believe it or not, is the word from the Congressional Management Foundation. CMI is a nonprofit outfit that, among other things, advises members of Congress on what the competition is paying for the 21,000 people who work for members, or committees, as secretaries, office managers, computer operators, legislative and press aides.
Last June the CMI sent out confidential salary questionnaires to selected workers, asking what they did, and how much they were paid for doing it.
Members of Congress are among the last absolute bosses in America. They can pay pretty much what they want (within an office budget) and hire and fire at will. Although that system seems a mite harsh, it produces a workforce that is generally excellent-if perhaps a trifle insecure.
What the survey found is that there is a very wide range of pay on Capitol Hill with GOP members paying most staffers slightly more than Democrats do.
The 178 administrative assistants responding reported earning anywhere from $21,000 to $58,000 with the average being $44,623.
The low-high range for receptionists was from $10,000 to $33,000, with the average being $14,550.
Press assistants (138 responding) said they got anywhere from $12,000 to $53,000, with the average at $24,355.
Pay for executive and personal secretaries ranged from $13,000 to $45,000 with the average $23,980.
Legislative correspondents got an average of $16,137, with pay ranging from $$8,000 to $29,000.
Caseworkers here got anywhere from $11,000 to $40,000, with the average reported at $20,271. Caseworkers in back-home district offices averaged $16,679.
Pay for office secretaries here ranged from $4,000 (one hopes that is a part-timer) to $28,000, with the average being $14,636.
Administrative assistants employed by rural Republicans averaged $45,533, AA's working for rural Democrats $45,059. AA's with Republicans representing urban areas averaged $42,864, those working for Democrats $47,306. AA's whose Republican bosses represent suburbia averaged $44,731; those with suburban Democratic bosses $41,200.
Pay Raises: The 4 percent pay raise approved last week for blue collar workers here will be retroactive to Oct. 17. Pay data collected by the government indicated that the 22,000 skilled craft and trade workers should have gotten a 6 percent catchup-with-industry raise.
But Congress put a 4 percent ceiling on their pay increases. The raise brings the average blue collar (wage board) federal salary here to just over $17,800, compared with $26,000 for the average white collar civil servant in Washington.
Retirement Age: Administration officials are considering a variety of options to save the federal retirement system money. One of them, still in the idea stage, is to raise the retirement age for government employes.
Civil servants can now retire at age 55, after 30 years service, and qualify for immediate annuities equal to 56 percent of their high three-year salary average. Government statistics show that more than half of all federal employes retire before age 60. In the private sector, they say, only 7 percent of workers retire before they are 60.
One way to save the federal retirement system money would be to require people to work and pay into the system longer. Federal employes now pay 7 percent of gross salary into the fund. The government says the average person gets it all back within 18 months of retirement.
One thing being discussed at the Office of Personnel Management is to raise the government retirement age to 63. Workers who retired early would take a 3 percent annuity reduction for each year under age 63. Other options, and other retirement ages, are also being considered. Nothing has been formally proposed to the White House (where a cabinet committee would have to approve it). If the White House okayed a new, higher retirement age, Congress would have to approve that.