It’s a good time to be an entry-level federal worker, according to a new USA Today analysis: Starting pay is much higher today than it was for the same positions in years past. For example, the average salary for a 20- to 24-year-old government auto mechanic was $46,427 this year; five years ago, it was $36,750. For a 30- to 34-year-old lawyer, the average starting salary was $101,045, compared to $79,177 five years ago. Twenty-two percent of federal workers now earn $100,000 or more, up from 12% in 2006.
The rising salaries make the federal government a desirable place to work, and the analysis also found that workers are less likely to leave these days. Since 2007, quitting is down 29%, retirements down 11%, disability departures down by one-third, and early retirements down by a whopping two-thirds. The government says new hires deserve the higher pay because they are increasingly asked to do more demanding versions of the positions. However, the analysis also found that federal paychecks grew at the slowest pace in 10 years. Even so, federal pay still did better than private wages and state and local government pay.