I’d been meaning to work this little fact into a post but I’m tired of saving the link so I’ll put it into a post of its own. Why do people insist on measuring the size of the federal government in terms of how many federal employees there are? We don’t measure companies by how many employees there are or states by how many people they employ. According to Fortune Magazine, the largest company in the United States is Exxon-Mobil with revenues of $453 billion. Wal-Mart (Fortune’s second largest company with revenues of $447 billion) has the largest number of employees.
Federal spending, of course, is higher every year. Yes, the number of federal employees isn’t nearly as large as it was once upon a time. However, the federal payroll is higher than ever:
The size of the executive branch’s payroll is expected to near a record $177 billion in fiscal 2012 — almost $35 billion more than the compensation costs for fiscal 2008.
And even with the Obama administration’s two-year freeze on some pay raises for executive branch civilians, their direct compensation for 2012 is expected to be $9 billion — or 5 percent — more than in 2010. Much of this increase would result from a plan to grow the federal full-time workforce by 15,000 in 2012. Direct compensation includes base pay, premium pay such as overtime, locality pay, recruitment, retention and relocation bonuses, performance awards, and cost-of-living and overseas allowances.
That 5 percent two-year increase is lower than previous two-year periods. For example, between 2008 and 2010, direct compensation costs increased by $25 billion, or 18 percent.
When benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and retirement fund contributions are included, total executive branch personnel costs are projected to top $242 billion in 2012, about $12.7 billion, or 5 percent, higher than in 2010.
The government’s total personnel costs — including the legislative and judicial branches, the U.S. Postal Service and military service members — are expected to reach a record $461 billion next year.
I have no idea which U. S. company has the highest total payroll in United States or the highest median wage. It would be interesting but it’s hard to ferret out.
I do know that you can’t determine the size or influence of the federal government by counting heads.