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Jeremy Hobson: Idaho has become the latest state to slash union rights for public sector workers. The state legislature approved a bill on the matter yesterday. In Washington, D.C. today a congressional committee will look at how compensation for federal workers compares with the private sector.

Our Washington Bureau Chief John Dimsdale reports.

John Dimsdale: According to the latest government statistics, the nation's two million federal workers are paid, on average, 23 percent less than similar private sector employees. But James Sherk, a labor scholar at the Heritage Foundation, will tell the committee today the government is missing the bigger picture.

James Sherk: When you include the value of their benefits, the typical federal worker is earning between 30 to 40 percent more than a similar private sector worker.

Sherk thinks the government should contract out more jobs to private companies, where wages and benefits are more competitive. But Max Stier, with the Partnership for Public Service, says been there, done that.

Max Stier: Contracting has actually been the largest growth industry of government for quite some time and there's a real argument about whether we're getting a better value.

The head of federal personnel will tell the committee that comparisons between government and private workers can be misleading. Government cooks, for example, may earn more than their colleagues in restaurants. But many government cooks work in prisons where the working conditions are more hazardous.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.