President Obama’s administration recently released its annual list of White House staff members and their salaries, inviting the typical comparisons with previous years and presidential administrations. The data indicates that Obama’s staff has increased from 454 employees in 2011 to 468 in 2012, and total salary expenditures have grown from $37.1 million in 2011 to $37.8 million in 2012.
The increase in emoluments comes two years after Obama announced a pay freeze for federal workers. A White House spokesman talked with The Washington Times about the higher salary costs in relation to the freeze:
The spokesman said the freeze is “still very much in effect,” and that the White House has not granted pay raises unless employees receive “increases in responsibilities or changes in position.”
The president’s top advisors, including Chief of Staff Jacob Lew and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, garner the highest salaries of $172,200, and 139 employees make at least $100,000. The median salary among White House staff is 65,667.
The White House payroll of $37.8 million has declined since Obama first entered the Oval Office in 2009, when a staff of 487 employees earned total wages of $39.1 million. But how does this compare to George W. Bush’s administration?
After adjusting for inflation, Bush’s White House staff — consisting of 431 employees — collected $35.2 million in total wages in the fourth year of his presidency, 2004. Bush wasn’t necessarily more frugal, however, as his staff expanded to 447 employees by 2008 at a cost of $35.4 million to taxpayers (adjusted for inflation).
Some staff positions filled by both presidents have received higher salaries under Obama. While both presidents list four “ethics advisors” on their staffs, the advisors will earn an average of $119,163 in 2012 compared to $102,207 in 2008 (adjusted for inflation).
Other positions have existed solely under the Obama administration. While the current White House staff includes three “calligraphers” that will earn an average of $92,350 in 2012, the Bush administration employed none in 2008.