Pay Parity for Federal Employees: Will it Happen?

Dec 18, 2017


Some lawmakers have asked President Trump to give federal employees a pay boost equal with that of the military, in the past there has been a parity. They recently sent him a letter asking for him to revise his alternate pay plan to increase the annual pay raise from 1.9% (the overall average amount currently proposed) to 2.4% (the amount likely to be given to military personnel).

“We support the biggest pay increase possible for our military members. We also want to note that with very few exceptions, there has been parity with respect to pay raises for military and civilian federal employees,” the letter said.

In the past, Congress has deferred the decision of the pay raise for federal employees to the president. Over the last 10 years, there have been 5 years between 2007-2017 when the military received a higher pay than civilians and no years in which civilians received a higher pay raise than the military. The biggest reason for that is military personnel are seen as being in a more dangerous occupation than federal civilian employees.

Congress included a 2.4% pay raise for military personnel in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, but the president has yet to sign it.

“We felt strongly that federal employees are an asset to the federal government and deserve parity with respect to pay increases for the military and for civilian employees,” those lawmakers wrote in a letter. “This is critical to recruiting and retaining the talent necessary for an innovative and effective federal workforce. We hope you will agree and use your authority to increase civilian pay to 2.4% in 2018.”

There is an across-the-board pay adjustment formula in the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act that sets raises for most federal employees under the General Schedule. The president can choose to differ from this formula and then Congress can ultimately propose and pass any alternative numbers.

These 12 lawmakers noted that with few exceptions, military and civilian employees generally get the same raise during a given year.

“Unfortunately, federal workers are often vilified, and their pay and benefits are constantly under attack,” they said. “Over the last 6 years, federal employees have contributed nearly $200 billion to deficit reduction. They have also had to endure pay freezes, hiring freezes, lost salaries because of sequestration-related furloughs and higher pension contributions. Most recently, they are reporting to work each day under the uncertainty of whether their positions will remain after the administration’s’ reorganization efforts.”

The National Treasury Employees Union applauded this saying, “This letter is a well-deserved recognition that the civilian workforce, often working alongside their counterparts in the military to deliver vital government services to Americans, deserve a decent raise next year.”

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