Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Real Compensation Increase from 2000 to 2009: Miltary (84%) vs. Federal (37%) vs. Private (9%)

"Rapidly rising pay and benefits in the armed forces have lifted many military towns into the ranks of the nation's most affluent communities, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

The hometown of the Marines' Camp Lejeune — Jacksonville, N.C. — soared to the nation's 32nd-highest income per person in 2009 among the 366 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data. In 2000, it had ranked 287th. The Jacksonville metropolitan area, with a population of 173,064, had the top income per person of any North Carolina community in 2009. In 2000, it ranked 13th of 14 metro areas in the state.

The USA TODAY analysis finds that 16 of the 20 metro areas rising the fastest in the per-capita income rankings since 2000 had military bases or one nearby.

What's driving the income growth: pay and benefits in the military have grown faster than those in any other part of the economy. Soldiers, sailors and Marines received average compensation of $122,263 per person in 2009, up from $58,545 in 2000 (see chart above). Military compensation — an average of $70,168 in pay and $52,095 in benefits — includes the value of housing, medical care, pensions, hazardous-duty incentives, enlistment bonuses and combat pay in war zones. More than 300 U.S. servicemembers have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After adjusting for inflation, military compensation rose 84% from 2000 through 2009. Compensation grew 37% for federal civilian workers and 9% for private-sector employees, the BEA reports (see chart below)."

HT: Newsalert

34 Comments:

At 8/17/2010 3:05 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

i have a suspicion that these figures have been heavily inflated by 3 things:

1. the housing bubble and what it did to the actuarial (though not actual as the military owns a lot of the housing outright) housing costs

2. inflation in the carried value of medical benefits

3. higher pay as a result of large numbers of soldiers being in a war zone and getting hazard pay.

55k as a base salary certainly would not entice me to risk being killed.

how much did just the base absent war/hazzard pay go up? the number may be a great deal less impressive.

 
At 8/17/2010 3:32 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The picture is actually far worse than these numbers indicate. Military employees can retire with full benefits after just 20 years---they may be under 40 years of age! They will live another 40 years--at your expense, and have their medical bills paid for by taxpayers too. Arthur Andersen called it a million-dollar severance package, and that was several years ago.

And yet, this is just one aspect of a military-foreign policy monster now sucking $1 trillion a year out of the private job- wealth-creating sector and into the dead hand of government.

These are the sentiment of Ron Paul, R-TX, libertarian:

"Many of my colleagues argue that Congress cannot put a price on our sacred national security, and I agree that the strong, unequivocal defense of our country is a top priority. There comes a time, however, when we must take stock of what our blank checks to the military–industrial complex accomplish for us, and where the true threats to American citizens lie.


The smokescreen debate over earmarks demonstrates how we have lost perspective when it comes to military spending. Earmarks constitute about $11 billion of the latest budget. This sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the $708 billion spent by the Pentagon this year to expand our worldwide military presence. The total expenditures to maintain our world empire is approximately $1 trillion annually, which is roughly what the entire federal budget was in 1990!

We spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and far more than we spent during the Cold War. These expenditures in many cases foment resentment that does not make us safer, but instead makes us a target. We referee and arm conflicts the world over, and have troops in some 140 countries with over 700 military bases.

With this enormous amount of money and energy spent on efforts that have nothing to do with the security of the United States, when the time comes to defend American soil, we will be too involved in other adventures to do so.

There is nothing conservative about spending money we don’t have simply because that spending is for defense. No enemy can harm us in the way we are harming ourselves, namely bankrupting the nation and destroying our own currency. The former Soviet Union did not implode because it was attacked; it imploded because it was broke. We cannot improve our economy if we refuse to examine all major outlays, including so-called defense spending."

 
At 8/17/2010 3:33 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Following Morganovich, I would also be very interested in the composition and comparability of those numbers. The DoD is now heavily dependent on civilian contractors, much more so that even 10 years ago, and particularly in our "overseas contingencies" (and overseas foreign labor even if employed by US contractors).

I would think this shifts the average DoD 'real comp' upward, with supply & logistics presumably lower cost than than the deployed U.S. soldier who uses those supplies.

Just like CD reports on the male-vs-female wage gap and makes the correct point to adjust for comparable jobs (i.e. do apples to apples, not apples to oranges), this study should look at real comp changes BY FUNCTION, not on average. The mix probably changed a lot over the decade.

 
At 8/17/2010 9:06 PM, Blogger fboness said...

The percentage rise in military pay includes starting from a low base. It also includes the need, given an all volunteer system, of competing with private employers for the best people.

As to pensions at twenty years: It's not the years, it's the mileage. That is a very long twenty years.

Full benefits are not so generous that a new retiree is going to buy an SUV with his first check and then go fishing for life. These people are going to need civilian jobs to make ends meet.

 
At 8/17/2010 9:07 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"The smokescreen debate over earmarks demonstrates how we have lost perspective when it comes to military spending."

Ron Paul justifying all the pork he stuffs into appropriations bills that he later votes against out of "principle."


Our military could use some paring back, but we get alot of dead terrorists for the money. In fact, the success at killing them over there leads hopeandchangey clowns like Benji to claim there never was a threat in the first place.

 
At 8/17/2010 9:30 PM, Blogger Irrippi said...

The military compensation does not include the tax benefits. Basic allowance for housing and subsistence is nontaxable. Several states with an income tax do not tax active duty military pay. All pay earned in a combat zone is tax free, and the portion of income which is taxable (if you don't spend the entire year at war) is taxed at a lower marginal tax rate. The remuneration also doesn't include bonuses for enlistment and reenlistment which vary by specialty, and specialty pay for doctors, nurses, pilots, lawyers, paratroopers, etc.

But military pay and benefits come nowhere close to that of police and firefighters. Members of the military are subject to work 24 hours a day, reducing the hourly wage significantly. They get no overtime pay and can hold no more than 60 days of leave after the end of the fiscal year. They can get paid for only 90 days of leave in their entire career. They must use leave for days they would otherwise have off.

They do NOT get "full benefits" at 20 years. They get 50% of BASE PAY, no housing or subsistence. The retirement pay is fully taxable. So retirement is at least a 60% pay cut. They get medical care at a VA hospital or military treatment facility IF they live close enough to use one. The quality of that health care stinks.

And yes, that is a very hard 20 years to put in for those benefits. The growth rate was, as fboness said, from a very low base. Lower enlisted personnel often qualify for food stamps.

The adequacy of officer pay depends on what your major and alma mater were. Pay increased rapidly in the past 15 years because so many good officers left in the mid1990s. The military realized the hard way it had to pay people better or lose them to the private sector.

The military itself overstates the value of it's benefits as a propaganda morale booster. The PX may have tax free goods, but they are low quality. The commissary is a really good benefit.

 
At 8/17/2010 9:43 PM, Blogger Irrippi said...

Comparing military pay to the private sector directly is also fallacious. 100% of military officers have at least a Bachelor's degree. 98% of enlisted soldiers have at least a high school diploma. Based on education alone, higher salaries are justified.

By natural progression and longevity, people in the military will have greater than average experience levels in their current job compared to the private sector where job turnover and reorganization are greater.

Throw in danger, job difficulty, long hours, frequent moves, and the pay dwindles.

You can't just compare average salaries and derive any meaningful results. That's what linear regression is for.

Benjamin, you have some major issues to deal with.

 
At 8/17/2010 10:03 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Military employees can retire with full benefits after just 20 years---they may be under 40 years of age! They will live another 40 years--at your expense, and have their medical bills paid for by taxpayers too"...

Well those dang 'farmers in uniform' are just leeching off of poor pseudo benny...

It just not FAIR I say...

ROFLMAO!

Come to think of it sethstorm needs a job and wants to work for an American outfit, maybe this is answer to sethstorm's situation...

 
At 8/18/2010 12:19 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Come to think of it sethstorm needs a job and wants to work for an American outfit, maybe this is answer to sethstorm's situation...

Oh Wow! What an idea! You're absolutely right, juandos, I think it meets all the many requirements. American company, permanent job, not temp or contractor, training after hire, security. Have I missed any?

Hey sethstorm! get off the couch. That sound is your phone ringing. Uncle Sam wants YOU!!

 
At 8/18/2010 12:33 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Give it a try sethstorm, you might like it. Did wonders for me!

If these numbers are right, I say it is great. If there is anyone that should be getting a fat federal paycheck it is our guys and gals in uniform!

 
At 8/18/2010 9:48 AM, Blogger Irrippi said...

Sorry to beat the dead horse some more, but I was still thinking about this last night.

Comparing "military" to "all private sector" salaries is fallacious. You're comparing a vaguely defined and narrow portion of the workforce with a much larger portion. It's like comparing auto worker salaries to all private sector salaries.

A better approach would be to compare specific job titles in the military with their counterparts, if any, in the civilian world:

A Military Policeman makes, on average, far less than a policeman.

A military personnel clerk makes less than a civilian Human Resources worker.

Doctors
Lawyers
Nurses
Pilots
Firefighters
Restaurant managers
Paralegals
Paramedics
IT specialists
Forklift operators
Crane operators
Heavy vehicle mechanics
Truck drivers
Bomb disposal personnel
Construction workers
Journalists

They all get paid less than civilian counterparts. Most of the low skill jobs like cooks have been outsourced (except in the Navy). Light vehicle mechanics in the military might get paid more, but only because tech schools are churning out mechanics.

Considering all the additional hardships and benefits, I think the military gets the salary just right. It must compete against private sector wages, so the wage is market determined. Bonuses are what give them pay flexibility even though everyone in every specialty at the same rank and time in service gets the same pay.

Sethstorm in the military. Drop and give me 50, maggot!

 
At 8/18/2010 11:23 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Oh boy.

The self-glorification and sniveling of publicly-paid workers never ends.

You know something? Ask any private-sector worker or company will they be around in 10 years, in the same position. The answer: "I hope so, but I don't klnow. The cmopetition is stiff, and we may be out of business."

Every p[rivate-sector company and employee is dogged by the nagging feeling they have to improve or lose.

But organizations and employees on the public dole always tell you how much sacrifice they make, how hard they have it, and how great they are. Military in particular.

The market never decides how great they are.

 
At 8/18/2010 11:40 AM, Blogger Paul said...

"But organizations and employees on the public dole always tell you how much sacrifice they make, how hard they have it, and how great they are."

You mean like your boyfriend Obama? There's never been a greater champion of public sector employees than this nitwit President you voted for.

"Military in particular."

And you would know because you served when and where?

 
At 8/18/2010 11:49 AM, Blogger fboness said...

Benjamin, you have ideas about the military that are far out of whack. Why don't you quite digging that hole you are in?

 
At 8/18/2010 12:23 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Guys, you have a silly utopian vision you can make the world safe by spending money--taxpayer money.

Throwing taxpayer money at global perceived threats through government organizations--and the nonpartisan CBO says we are in for $3 trillion, total spending in Iraqistan--might work, but probably not. A good guess is that we are wasting our money.

Every public agency becomes coprolitic and parasitic--militaries are no exception.

All public agencies have to be sunsetted every five years--militaries are no excpetion.

The US military is defined mostly by ossified lard. In real terms, we spend double what we did 10 years ago, and more than what we spent during the Cold War--when we face a true adversary, the Soviet Union, and they had 2 million men in uniform, a blue-water navy, a supersonic airforce, ICBMs, the KGB etc. etc. etc.

Now we fight some punk terrorist-ragheads, armed with homemade bombs, in hills of Afcrapistan or Punkistan--and spend more doing it than when we faced down the Soviets.

Global Utopia costs a lot, and you never get there--especially when spending taxpayer money. That's money siphoned out of the private wealth- and jobs-creating public sector.

Read your Ron Paul, and get a clue.

 
At 8/18/2010 12:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Every p[rivate-sector company and employee is dogged by the nagging feeling they have to improve or lose.

benji! Good for you. That is the ultimate distillation of a description of a competitive free enterprise system. That dogged feeling is what drives all innovation and keeps prices dropping.

That feeling is missing a command economy, and in the public sector, therefore they can never be as efficient as a free economy. Incentives matter.

"The market never decides how great they are."

Yes it does. US military service is voluntary. Pay and benefits must, over all, exceed those for equivalent jobs in the private sector, or few would enlist and perhaps put their lives on the line.

BTW didn't the word "p[rivate" trigger your spell checker? You might consider cleaning up such simple slips on the off chance you could be taken more seriously.

Prof Perry has already expressed his displeasure at grammatical errors, and may start screening for spelling errors also.

 
At 8/18/2010 12:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Guys, you have a silly utopian vision you can make the world safe by spending money--taxpayer money."

Wait! Wait, benji, this is a discussion of compensation, not the relative merits of HAVING a military, or where it should spend its time and our money.

I usually discuss those subjects at "Abolish The Military" blog.

 
At 8/18/2010 1:01 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H.

I will work on spelling.

What I meant is that no federal agency--including our military--has to survive private competition.

So, inevitably, they become self-serving, turf-hungry, self-glorified hunks of ossified lard.

The fact that the taxpayer-funded military can hire employees does not mean they are as efficient as private-sector outfits. It only means they have a deep, deep pocket-book for hiring--paid for by taxpayers who have to make their money in the private sector.

If it were up to me, we would go back to universal conscription, and a radically downsized military.

Evidently, recruiting standards have been falling.

 
At 8/18/2010 1:01 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"Guys, you have a silly utopian vision you can make the world safe by spending money--taxpayer money."

no, by killing terrorists. But it takes money to kill terrorists.

"Now we fight some punk terrorist-ragheads, armed with homemade bombs, in hills of Afcrapistan or Punkistan-"

Heavily funded by Islamic petro-states, eager to commit mass murder, and determined to get their hands on the technology to do it. When Iran goes nuclear, will you just shrug your shoulders, Benji? If so, you're a fool.

 
At 8/18/2010 1:13 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

one factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the value of foreign adventurism:

we are faced with a situation not dissimilar to that of the romans. we have a vast, open empire that we cannot possibly defend all of all the time. our borders are open, our society is free. we don't want to give that up nor live in a militarized or police state.

if you cannot prevent attackers, you must dissuade them. this is called deterrence. the deterrent value of not being attacked generated by walloping and effecting regime change in nations half way around the world is not trivial. it's worth something, and will make both prospective terrorists and harborers of terrorists more reluctant to attack the US.

one can argue whether the price is worth the gain and there is a great deal of room for intelligent people to disagree about such, but our treasure and lives bought more than a bit of regime engineering, it bought deterrence and a freedom from other attacks.

imagine the geopolitical situation had we failed to respond to 9/11. it is precisely their overwhelming responses at any cost that secured the roman borders, and likely it is the only thing that will protect ours. if you think states like libya, saudi, pakistan, and the like are not far better about making sure that their citizens do not attack the US than they were a decade ago, you have not been paying attention.

regardless, this rubicon has been crossed, so we might as well make the best of it. spending the money and lives and then squandering the results is truly the worst of both worlds.

 
At 8/18/2010 2:41 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"If it were up to me, we would go back to universal conscription, and a radically downsized military."

You,re kidding, right? You have no problem with involuntary servitude? What about the 13th amendment?

Of course FDR's response to that objection during WWII was that all of us as a country had volunteered, by declaring war, and the draft was only a selection process among those volunteers.

There has been no declaration of war since then, however, so that clever idea wouldn't work so well these days.

I know, Vietnam: Clearly unlawful conscription.

 
At 8/18/2010 2:54 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/18/2010 3:39 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H.-

Universal conscription-I will admit to mixed feelings.

On the one hand, we have a bloated, fantastically expensive military that even a Ron Paul suggests will bankrupt us--but no draft. That is freedom (although some would higher taxation is confiscation, and thus not more freedom).

With a draft, a limited military, we would dave hundreds of billions of dollars, and trillions of dollars over 10 years--money put back into the wealth- and job-creating private sector. Greater freedom for taxpayers. But there is the problem of the draft.

Our Founding Fathers clearly preferred a volunteer non-professional military, neither draftees or professional mercenaries (though with a professional officer corps).

George Mason (Perry's university is named after him) did not sign the Constitution as he wanted an explicit ban on a permanent military.

It is interesting to ponder whether Vietnam, Afcrapistan or Iwreck could have happened with a volunteer force only (though a professional officer corps). I doubt it.

Therein lies the wisdom of our Founding Fathers.

BTW, we do not have a "volunteer" military. A volunteer military is one in which you do not make a career of it. You serve in a war and go home. We have a military of public employees.

 
At 8/18/2010 4:10 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"With a draft, a limited military, we would dave hundreds of billions of dollars, and trillions of dollars over 10 years--money put back into the wealth- and job-creating private sector."

In other words, you would force people to work at much less than their true market value in order to save taxpayers money.

What about that pesky 13th amendment? What about that pesky declaration of war by Congress?

"It is interesting to ponder whether Vietnam, Afcrapistan or Iwreck could have happened with a volunteer force only."

Afghanistan & Iraq HAVE happened with an all volunteer force. All volunteer necessarily includes career people, or mercenaries, if you prefer that term.

No one is currently under conscription, although your buddy who is currently sliming up the White House is in favor of mandatory public service for all. In fact, his ethically challenged acolyte Charlie Rangel has recently introduced H.R. 5741 which if passed would require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service. Perhaps they favor repealing the 13th amendment.

 
At 8/18/2010 4:40 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Our Founding Fathers clearly preferred a volunteer non-professional military, neither draftees or professional mercenaries (though with a professional officer corps)."

In place of the word "military", you should probably use the word "army", as the Founders DID prefer a permanent navy, including marines, and the Constitution authorizes Congress to establish one. Their concern was with a standing army at home on US soil, as had been the case under British rule.

They also preferred avoidance of "entangling alliances" and many other things that have since been ignored.

Lack of a declared war since WWII leaves the idea of a volunteer army, that goes to fight a war then returns home, without much practical meaning.

 
At 8/18/2010 8:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

morganovich, you make some very good points.

(as we have all stopped discussing compensation, I guess this subject is OK :-))

Deterrence IS important, and hard to value in dollars spent.

I would, however, question the need of having 700-900 permanent military installations in 130-140 countries around the world, depending on which reports one believes. This is MOST countries in the world, and those where we have no presence are likely either very good friends, very bad enemies, or have no military value as to location.

Countries like Japan, South Korea, and Germany come to mind right away as countries not requiring our military presence.

Maybe we should concentrate our military efforts where they are actually engaged in military activity of some kind.

 
At 8/18/2010 9:47 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Something tells me that where our armed forces are needed (mostly as a trip wire) is being discussed without looking at a global map...

Having a sizable presence in S. Korea and Okinawa might prevent a mad man like Kim Jong Il acting the fool (also reminding the Chinese that they won't have an uncluttered walk in the park if they decide to colonize which is something they have a history of doing)...

Having a presence in Iraqi Kurdistan would've been an obvious, potential solution to the Iranian problem, the Taliban problem, the Saudi problem, plus a nice perch to keep an eye on pseudo palistinians (west bank & gaza), Syrians, Lebanon, and Egypt...

Since our country has done very little in the way colinization we wouldn't have been the Romans...

This of course would cost money, money now being wasted on 'nanny state programs' with a track record of abysmal failure...

Not to fear though, this clown we won't have to worry about any of it...

 
At 8/18/2010 10:11 PM, Blogger fboness said...

Benjamin, I take it that when you talk about conscription, you don't expect to be conscripted.

 
At 8/18/2010 11:04 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos, I can't disagree with your logic, but if we are to provide the kind of security we are now providing all over the world, we need to get paid for it. We just can't afford to do it for free.

In the case of North Korea, other than a nuclear attack on South Korea that we might be unable to prevent in any case, I don't believe they are much of a threat in a conventional war. South Korea can most likely take care of itself.

Europe is another area that should be paying for its own defense.

I can't think of any country on Earth that would consider confronting the US military in a conventional war. We have proven decisively in the recent past that we can easily brush aside anything thrown at us

Most of our serious problems seem to come from areas where there are hundreds of millions of people who hate our guts & want us all dead. These people haven't a prayer of confronting the US military in a conventional manner, but many have no problem blowing themselves up to kill Westerners. How do you fight that?

 
At 8/19/2010 7:24 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Ron,

"..but many have no problem blowing themselves up to kill Westerners. How do you fight that?"

Ann Coulter had the proper answer: invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.

 
At 8/19/2010 11:14 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Ann Coulter had the proper answer: invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."

Hmmm. Might just work. We seem to be on our way to that end in Iraq and Afghanistan, except as I recall there were no leaders to be found in the latter.

It may be time to quit sending soldiers to kick down doors, and start sending clerics.

In fact, isn't this the strategy Spain used in the western hemisphere some time ago?

 
At 8/22/2010 8:31 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I can't disagree with your logic, but if we are to provide the kind of security we are now providing all over the world, we need to get paid for it. We just can't afford to do it for free"...

No doubt Ron H as forty plus years of cold war has shown us...

Still can we afford to wait on the rest of the countries to get off their collective duff in a timely fashion?

I keep thinking 'U.N.' when it comes to slovenly, sloppy responses...

"I don't believe they are much of a threat in a conventional war. South Korea can most likely take care of itself"...

Yes I'm pretty sure 'if' it came down to a one on one situation between N. Korea and S. Korea the vast majority of the N. Korean army could be easily defeated with 'happy meals' and blue jeans...

"Europe is another area that should be paying for its own defense"...

No argument here Ron H...

"I can't think of any country on Earth that would consider confronting the US military in a conventional war"...

Well Ron H you might just want to reconsider that point of view a bit when it comes to China...

 
At 8/23/2010 1:11 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos, I think I see the problem here. I was thinking only in terms of military capability.

From the AT article:

"The PLAN units that conducted drills in the East China Sea would be no match for the George Washington Strike Group, which "includes two cruisers, seven destroyers, and an undisclosed number of submarines in addition to the nuclear carrier. But Beijing is less concerned with American firepower than with the willpower of the Obama administration. And against this soft target, Beijing seems to be winning. The White House has been downplaying the issue as Chinese rhetoric has ramped up."

Where's Ronnie when we need him?

2012 can't come too soon. I only hope it's not too late.

As for the slow moving UN, I think in hindsight, we would have done better after 9/11 had the US taken a more direct approach to the retaliation issue.

I have to believe that very shortly after the attack, the US intelligence agencies had a pretty good idea who was responsible. After all, bin Laden had declared war on the US in 1996, and swore to hurt us where we live. Al Queda was almost surely responsible for the embassy and USS Cole bombings among other things.

By wasting weeks drumming up support & asking politely for the Taliban to hand bin Laden over, The US certainly allowed al Queda to move out of their existing locations & hide in places unknown.

When the US finally arrived in Afghanistan, the culprits had long since gone.

A better response, in my view, would have been an overwhelming and devastating strike within 48 hrs. on all al Queda training camps and any other suspected al Queda location in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

It's possible that bin Laden and other top folks could have been killed, a great deal of resource destroyed, and a very clear message sent.

Pres Bush could have informed neighbors not to worry about those fast low flying aircraft approaching their borders, as they would soon be gone. Apologies for violations of air space and other diplomatic niceties could have been handled afterward in an orderly manner.

 
At 8/24/2010 3:58 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Mark, you should do one of your comparisons of death rates between military and non-military jobs to see if it supports higher pay for military vs non-military jobs, like it does for men vs women jobs.

 

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