Here's What A Government Salary Means In 10 Countries

When it comes to compensation for our work, we all want to know how we stack up compared to others. Since we are all taxpayers, knowing how much money government workers earn from the public coffers gives us telling insight. Have you ever wondered which country of the G8 pays its government workers the most? How do the government salaries of the G8 compare to other places in the world, such as Africa? We will examine some publicly available figures.

Furthermore, it’s highly informative to see how government salaries and private salaries of certain industry areas compare within countries in the G8. In some countries, such as Canada, Germany, and the UK, government workers certainly have a good life, but politicians in Italy seem to have the sweetest deal in the G8.

The G8 countries comprise a group of major industrial nations that have met annually since 1975, to deal with major economic and political issues facing their own countries as well as the international community. These countries are The USA, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia. Despite the fact that there will be a G7 meeting this year in Brussels, without Russia (due to the crisis in Ukraine), we still include Russia in this comparison for the sake of completeness. Finally we will make a sobering comparison of the G8 countries to two African countries, Nigeria and Kenia, in terms of government workers' salaries.

9 The United States Of America

IT Workers Are Paid Handsomely

In the US, the government sector with the highest median salary was, not surprisingly, Information Technology, where IT Directors earned a median annual salary of $84,135(US). This was followed by Human Resources directors, who came in at $70,000.

How does this compare to the private sector? Overall in the US, the median annual salary for an IT manager is $77,000 (US) and median salary for a Human Resources Director is $78,000. These numbers are according to surveys conducted by PayScale.com.

8 Canada

Government Jobs Are Hugely Lucrative

In Canada, the national treasury board reports that the highest pay scale level in the Computer Systems group, comes in at $122,000 (US). A brief look at general government salaries in Canada showed that most Canadian government workers, some without advanced academic qualifications, earned more than $90,600 (US) last year.

Compared to private sector salary surveys at PayScale.com, these salaries seem quite high. The median salary for an IT manager in Canada is around $69,800(US) in the private sector. Given that government workers in Canada have a high level of job security compared to the private sector, they certainly are in a “Happy Club” all of their own.

7 France

Workers Are Paid Well, But There Are Limits

France is an interesting comparison, because the government of France is strongly in the socialist camp. This has positive and negative consequences for French citizens. Some positives are good social services and excellent health care. Because of the socialist policies of the French government, there are limits to the salaries of government workers.

In 2012, France passed a law which limits the salaries of the heads of government-owned companies to 450,000 euros (US$621,720) annually, so that there is a scale ensuring that a state boss does not earn more than 20 times that of her lowest-paid worker. According to a poll conducted in March 2013, more than 80% of French citizens were even in favor of limiting private sector pay, and wealth taxes are certainly a topic of conversation in France. In France, IT project managers earn a median salary of around

6 Germany

Public Servants Are Expected To Serve The Public

A document produced by the OECD in 2007 explains the payment philosophy in the German civil service. It states the following:

"Remuneration is intended to ensure that civil servants are able to devote themselves entirely to their jobs; only a financially independent civil service is able to fulfill the functions assigned to it by the Constitution..."

There are collective agreements with the German government for salaries and increases. At the time of the OECD report, the highest paid German civil servants earned around $171,600(US) annually.

5 UK

It Pays To Work In Government

The highest paid government group in the UK last year was accountants, at a median annual salary of $54,323. According to PayScale.com, accountants in public companies in the UK earned a median annual salary of 27,000 british pounds sterling or $45,000 (US)

Compared to public company salaries of accountants in the UK government certainly seem high. Similarly to Canada, from a cursory overview it seems as if government workers in the UK certainly also live in a “happy club”.

4 Italy

Italian Politicians Live Like Kings

In 2012, Mario Monti, the Prime Minister of Italy from 2011 to 2013, revealed that Italy’s politicians were the highest paid in Europe. Around 2012, the highest earners in the Italian government made more than $26,000 in salary and perks per month, more than some Italian citizens earned in the entire year.

Mr. Monti commissioned a survey when he came into government. The salaries of highly paid Italian lawmakers were nearly four times the government pay of Spanish politicians, and much higher than their British counterparts, who get about $8400(US) per month, including perks. Their pay is nearly quadruple the government salaries of the Spanish parliamentarians, who earn just $6,000 a month and considerably higher than their British counterparts, who gross $8,400 each month, including perks.

But the main reason why Italy is a sweet spot for government workers is that many Italian politicians legally collect income from other sources, such as private businesses, consultancies, and legal and medical practices—this income is often tax free because of the lawmakers’ parliamentary status.

3 Japan

Government Salaries Are Actually Quite Reasonable

According to CareerCross.com, the highest paid government workers in Japan are in Program Coordination and Management, receiving average annual pay of $58,581. That's certainly much lower than some government management positions we've seen in the USA and Canada.

According to PayScale.com, the median Japanese Project Management job in the private sector pays roughly $69,211, which is surprising. So from a cursory view, it seems as if the Japanese government spending on salaries is quite modest compared to the rest of the G8.

Furthermore, in March 2014, the Japanese government informed unions that they have asked private sector companies to increase employee wages in order to combat deflation. Companies who will participate in this initiative include Toyota Motor Corp., Honda, Panasonic Corp. and Hitachi Ltd.

2 Russia

The Government Salary Situation Is Complicated

In 2004, while the Russian Ministry of Finance looked at ways to raise the salaries of federal officials, the regions tried to launch an initiative to lower the defiantly high salaries of local public servants.

According to a 2004 article by the Russian news agency Pravda, the head of a territorial body of a federal agency in the Vladimir region earned $118 a month against the $247 of a public servant in the region administration in 2004.At the same time, the Vladimir area was receiving more than $50 million annually in federal subsidies.

In Karelia, a republic in the North West of Russia, the salary of a deputy minister in the local government was $200, 2.5 times higher than that of a federal deputy minister. However, federal workers had higher benefits in addition to their salaries.

In 2004, the mayor if Izhevsk in Udmurtia received a total monthly salary of $4,480. Now in comparison, a Project Manager in IT, in the private sector in Russia, earns roughly $35,328 and a CEO earns upwards of $84,000, each per year.

1 Nigeria And Kenya

Global Inequality Is Still Startling

Let's now compare two African countries to place things in perspective: Nigeria and Kenya. According to GlassDoor.ca,  a deputy director in the Federal Government of Nigeria earns roughly $10,058 as an annual salary. Compared to the G8, this looks dismal, were it not for the fact that the cost of living in Nigeria is also much lower than that of the G8 countries.

In the private sector, a general Operations Manager in Nigeria earns around $60,000 according to PayScale.com. Still, it is evident from social media sites such as Nairaland.com, that ordinary Nigerians feel government officials are overpaid.

According to a survey conducted by SalaryExplorer.com , the salary of the average Government or Defence worker in Kenya is roughly $9,500 per year. Executives and Management professionals in Kenya may earn upwards of $45,300 per year. These numbers are also very low compared to the G8 countries. But according to local sources in Kenya, it seems that ordinary folks in that country also feel that their elected officials are paid too much.

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