Government Employees vs. Private Employees


Working in the government sector can provide you with stability and a higher average income than private sector employment. Government jobs include positions such as legislators, judges, police officers and administrative personnel. Even though many of the jobs in the government overlap with positions in the private sector, the benefits and compensation packages can differ greatly. Jobs in the private sector also have a few benefits that government jobs cannot provide.


One of the biggest differences between jobs in the private sector and those in the government sector are the salaries. As a general rule, government jobs have higher average compensation for those in the private sector. In fact, according to USA Today, in 2008, government jobs that were also available in the private sector earned on average almost $8,000 more per year in compensation. This provides more of a financial incentive for these employees even though they are doing essentially the same job.

Health Insurance

Government and private sector employees generally differ in health insurance benefits. Government employees are more likely to be offered health insurance when compared with private sector employees. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 48 percent of retail businesses provided group health insurance to their employees. By comparison, almost 80 percent of government workers were covered by a group health insurance plan. While a higher percentage of other private industries than retail business provides health insurance, government workers do have better access to insurance in most cases.

Retirement Benefits

The retirement benefits that these groups differ between the two sectors. For example, according to a study done by Capital Matrix Consulting, government employees in California had pension plans that provided benefits that were as much as three times higher than what employees in the private sector received. Not every government employee enjoys this big of a gap, but government employees do receive better retirement benefits on average. Federal employees can be covered by the Federal Employee Retirement System which provides several different types of benefits.


Labor unions are groups that are formed by workers to aid in negotiating pay and benefits with employers. In the private sector, very few industries involve labor unions. In the government sector, more employees deal with labor unions. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 36 percent of government workers were involved in a union. By comparison, only a little more than 6 percent were involved in a union in the private sector.

Job Performance and Advancement

In the private sector, employees may have a better opportunity to advance by providing a superior performance. When you can perform well and make more money for your company, you can be rewarded with a promotion and higher income. In the government, promotions and pay raises are given according to a schedule and strict rules.

Job Choices

Although government jobs do come in many forms, you can typically find more options in the private sector. If you get tired of a job in the private sector, you can simply try to get a different job in another area. In the government, you can only choose from so many different types of positions.

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