At Least 113 Staffers at U.S. Fed Earn More Than Yellen

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(Reuters) - The top 113 earners among staff at the Federal Reserve's Washington headquarters make an average of $246,506 per year, excluding bonuses and other benefits - more than Fed Chair Janet Yellen and nearly double the normal top government rate.

Yellen, whose salary is set by Congress, earns $201,700 a year.

The details on Fed pay were provided to Reuters in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for data on all employees of the U.S. central bank's board whose salaries outstrip $130,810, which is the top of the government's pay scale in most areas.

However, the central bank only provided salaries for staff who make at least $225,000 a year, with some exceptions. It is the first time the list has been made public.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have sponsored a bill that would require the Fed to divulge that information publicly.

Supporters of the Fed say the world's leading central bank needs top talent, and note that its expenses are not covered by taxpayers, but by the income it earns on securities it holds. Critics, however, think the Fed has too much discretion.

"It certainly bolsters the case for more oversight," said Maggie Seidel, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Republican Scott Garrett, a co-sponsor of the bill.

As of July 31, the Fed's inspector general led the list with an annual salary of $312,000, followed by the central bank's four division directors, its general counsel and its chief operating officer, who each earn a base of $265,000.

Despite the relatively high pay of senior managers at the Fed board, the average salary of all its staffers was $121,279, excluding benefits, a figure that lags behind other financial regulators.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, the average salary was $157,946 in 2013, while at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation it was about $130,000. The average at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission was $146,323.

Former Senator Ted Kaufman said it was important for the central bank to hire and retain talented staff who could fetch more in the private sector. Managing directors at large investment banks, for example, usually earn a salary around $250,000 and pull in bonuses that in good times can be double or triple that amount.

Nevertheless, the Delaware Democrat said tracking the Fed's costs was a legitimate concern.

"In the private sector, every business has incentives to keep costs down. In government, you have to overcome the issue that there is no natural need to keep costs down," Kaufman said.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Shumaker)
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