Number of Feds Making Six Figures Rises Government salaries jump in recession; average is $71K By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Dec 11, 2009 11:46 AM CST 28 comments Comments Tim Geithner makes 191,300 a year, though that's half what he made at his last job. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Newser) – The number of federal employees making more than $100,000 a year has surged since the start of the recession, jumping from 14% a year and a half ago to 19% today. As salaries have increased, those making the most have gotten the biggest raises. When the recession began, for example, just one Transportation Department employee had a salary of $170,000 or more; today, 1,690 do, reports USA Today. The average federal worker’s pay is now $71,206, compared to $40,331 in the private sector. “There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous,” said one Republican congressman. But the Federal Managers Association says the number has increased because the government has hired more highly skilled people, and it maintains that they make 26% less than similar private sector professionals.