May 16th, 2009
10:41 AM ET
6 years ago

State Department fixes wage error

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The State Department has revised a report that erroneously pegged the salaries of some foreigners working abroad at U.S. embassies and other places at less than $1 per day.

It's not $1 a day, it's $4 a day, the inspector general's office said Friday, two days after the report was released.

"We were given that information erroneously," inspector general spokesman Tom Burgess told CNN. "We know it is between three dollars and four dollars a day."

Apparently a currency conversion error was to blame, he said.

Other details of the report remain in place, including claims that some lower grade foreign nationals who work for the department earn so little that they must cut back to one meal a day and send their children out to peddle on the streets.

"We have no further corrections to make," Burgess said. "We stand behind the report."

The inspector general's report looked at how the United States pays more than 51,000 local, non-American employees in about 170 missions.

In addition to the hardship caused to the workers because of inadequate pay, the report found that the United States is losing staff to other higher-paying employers, and may not be able to fill vacancies with qualified people.


Filed under: State Department
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. chelle

    This has nothing to do with being liberal or not! What has happened to the ethics of Americans!!!! For a nation that supposedly is a beacon of hope to all.....wow you are a bunch of hypocrits.

    No matter where a person lives in the world the US government should be paying them a living wage based on that country's economy. So no you don't have to pay them $25.00/hour but a decent living wage for that particular country.

    Why does everything in the US have to become a struggle between the Republicans and Democrats? How about using ethics and morals to determine right or wrong???? It is disgusting to hear every item on CNN become rhetoric for one side or the other.

    May 13, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Qui-Tam Relator

    ****************************************************************
    Why are we hiring non American's to work at our overseas embassies ? Is this another form of out sourcing. Slavery never died in our society it just changed colors and faces.
    ****************************************************************

    May 13, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Jason

    Keep in mind that we are one of the few countries in the world–if not the only country–that employs foreign nationals in its embassies and consulates. Most other countries wouldn't do this because of the obvious threats that arise from foreign intelligence agencies. Moreover, those locally employed staff in many countries around the world are fortunate to have any employment and, generally, employment at the U.S. embassy is often prestigious. They may not make the best money in the world, but neither do most Americans these days. This is certain: the U.S. government does pay them for their work, their job is steady, and their employment is usually long-term and secure. I wonder how many Americans would envy that mix these days?

    May 13, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. phoenix86

    Meanwhile, per CNN Lou Dobbs, the Federal Government payroll is expanding rapidly AND the average federal employee's total compensation is now almost double the private sector.

    Given that the private sector pays the federal government through taxes, I wonder how long this can go on until the US government enters bankruptcy.

    Obama is proudly leading this nation to the economic and social equivalent of Bolivia.

    May 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Bobbie in Maryland

    OUTRAGEOUS!
    Obama administration will, I hope, take steps at once to reverse this years-long abomination!

    May 13, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. No Incumbents 2010

    Gosh we pay Illegal Immigrants more than that.
    As for barking republican ankle biters post: Get used to Slavery that is what socialism is.

    May 13, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. peakarack

    Is this kind of change u can believe in?

    May 13, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. No Incumbents 2010

    A dollar a Day? Why that's much more than future baby boomers will receive from Social Security if the trend continues.

    And we want the GOVERNMENT to reform healthcare?

    May 13, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Janelle

    CNN, this is one time that I've been very disappointed in your journalism. This is by far an incomplete story.

    What are the normal wages in that part of their country? What are their duties and how do those duties compare to comparable local jobs? What system is set up to document and track their wages and compare them to local wages? How does the unemployment situation in each area affect the wage base? How would raising their wages affect the local economy and local small business owners?

    Until you can paint the WHOLE picture, running this article was irresponsible in my opinion and will only serve to invite criticism where it may not be warranted.

    May 13, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Nina

    What about people in this country that have to live on an unemployment check? That is not much more if you have a famil;y.

    May 13, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Charles

    Funny – Vote for the "Card Check" for workers rights? You must be from ACORN. Can someone say hello FRAUD and INTIMIDATION? Sorry to go off topic, but the Card Check would only encourage labor strikes during a time when it's already hard to get a job. Then again, you're not working and still getting benefits...sounds like the "change" America voted for.

    May 13, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. nana

    for your information – poster US – no locals ever get any benefits. I have worked for a US agency in another country as a local of that country and here is how it works: you do the job, your american manager sends in the report at the end of the month, he gets paid well above $50K, appartment rent is paid for him and he spends his days taking vacations or doing some other job on the side. So, to burst your buble – locals never get any benefits and their salaries don't even come close to $1000 a month (that's actually a dream amount). so please don't be sarcastic. and these jobs are not cusionny and all that secure. been there, done that! trust me.

    May 13, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  13. dan

    People like Sick of Dirty Obama must have been sick of school too. How else to explain the fact that he/she can't read. The article says that raises have not been given for 5 years. By the way, if someone from Ethiopia (for example) is paid $1 a day, they are actually earning above the per capita income.

    May 13, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Chris

    If we're going to pay the citizens of those countries low wages, why are we not paying American citizens who work in those countries the same pay scale? Maybe we can eliminate some of those government jobs where we are using US citizens and replace them with government jobs using citizens of the country we're working in. An even better idea may be to bring in a whole bunch of illegal immigrants from you know what country and replace many of our high paid government officials with them, but pay them some of those low paid illegal immigrant types of pay that many of our companies and now paying under the table.

    May 13, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. arithmetic is liberal

    Which countries?

    Are we talking about 3rd adn 4th world countries like Laos, Mauritania and Cameroon, or are we talking about developing industrial countries like Brazil, China, and Indonesia, or are we talking about developed countries like Luxemborg, Andorra, and Monaco?

    You're going to have to report this better before I begin to give a hoot.

    May 13, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. Jane

    CNN once again is throwing an inaccurate data curve ball. What is the average wage/ cost of living of the people in these countries?? Don't you realize that not everyone makes the US hourly average wage ...in most 3rd world countries that can be the daily or most likely monthly average monies they live on. Taking that in reality you must know that the cost of items are a lot different...they do not care about designer clothes, cars, etc. just the basic things required for life. Their way and means of life are different. You have definately looked at it through a blurred ball and are making people think that everything is horrible because they work for the us gov and are underpaid by your standards....employees working for the us gov in foreign countries are better paid by us than by their country.

    May 13, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Axl

    This is serious, we need to pay US embassy staff overseas enough that they are not bribed to compromise our security. Hasn't anyone watched Ocean's 11?

    May 13, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  18. Proud DHS radical

    "The State Department official said local employees had been given a mandatory 2.9 percent pay increase in January and in some cases an additional 1 percent increase". So instead of earning $1 per day they're now earning $1.04?

    May 13, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  19. Ruty

    The rich get richer–the poor get poorer. Sounds like the great american way.

    May 13, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    A. One presumes they aren't chained up and are free to leave any time.
    B. If they did leave they probably would have no job or one that paid worse.
    c. They should join the UAW so they can get 95% of their pay for doing nothing.

    May 13, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. Dan, TX

    The government is being run like the republicans like.

    May 13, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. Brian from California

    Locals at US diplomatic posts shoule not earn less than our US minimum wage.

    May 13, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. Brian from California

    Locals at US diplomatic posts should not earn less than our US minimum wage. Enforce MINIMUM WAGE GLOBALLY!!!

    May 13, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. Honey

    As unfair as it may seem, in U.S. Embassies and Consulates, the wages of the foreign service national employees correspond to the wages on the local economy. This means that in impoverished nations like Haiti and Bangladesh, the locals are paid far less than their counterparts working in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in France or Austria.

    May 13, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. david

    i tought a doller a day would be good republic party policy , its vary fiscaly conservitive republicans .

    May 13, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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