It's the worst recession for 60 years, with private firms slashing jobs and cutting pensions. But in the public sector it's still boomtime!
The Chancellor thinks the economy is in its worst state for 60 years, across the country firms are freezing wages, capping recruitment and laying people off.
Not that this would be apparent if you read yesterday's Guardian.
There are hundreds of public sector jobs advertised - so many that they filled 55 pages.
Booming: Fifty-five pages of yesterday's Guardian were filled with adverts for public sector jobs, despite tough times in the private sector
Nor were these humble nurses and teachers on £20,000 a year, but six-figure salaries, with long holidays, gold-plated pensions, flexible working hours and generous paternity and maternity leave.
They are an insult to those who are holding down proper jobs in these hard times.
So let's have a look at them. Among the council roles on offer this week are: a social inclusion co-ordinator in Wolverhampton on £35,852; a personal best adviser for Lambeth Council on £30,018; and a Muslim youth engagement key worker in Barnet on £29,859. What on earth will all these people do all day?
And then there is the money. Durham Council alone is advertising three jobs at £140,000 a year, and another at £125,000 a year.
Not that these salaries are a surprise. Research from the Taxpayers' Alliance found that there are more than 818 people in Town Halls earning more than £100,000 a year - 14 of whom earn more than the Prime Minister (£188,849).
These people are being paid top, private sector pay rates, but they are not doing top, private sector jobs.
For a start, they are less likely to be fired - their employers will never run out of money, and even gross incompetence is apparently often ignored.
Next, they enjoy far more generous pension schemes.
In the private sector, final-salary pensions have virtually disappeared. But in the public sector, not only are they universal, but employees can still retire at 60.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies reckons these schemes make the average public sector worker 12 per cent better off than their private sector equivalent on the same salary.
So those three Durham Council employees taking home £140,000 are actually earning the private- sector equivalent of £156,800.
And they get on average five days more holiday, too. All this places an increasing burden on the poor old private sector taxpayer.
The total cost of the unfunded pensions obligations to public sector employees is estimated to be more than £1 billion - for every pound a employee in a private company puts towards his pension, he contributes nearly another pound to pay the pension of someone employed by the state.
This problem has become far, far worse over the past 11 years, as the number of people publicly employed has soared.
At a very conservative estimate, there are 800,000 more people working for the state than there were in 1997.
No wonder total public sector wage costs have risen by 50 per cent in the past five years alone - to £50 billion.
And are they grateful? Of course not. This week's TUC conference has been dominated by threats of strikes from public sector unions.
Not that this is anything new. In the12 months up to May, public sector workers went on strike for 895,000 days - more than 100 times as many days on average as their counterparts in the private sector.
And they take far more sick leave - 25 per cent more than in the private sector.
This tale of two nations has gone on long enough.
Now that Britain faces tougher times, the public sector party must end - and soon.
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