WH proposes 2.7% bump in pay for feds
- By Nathan Abse
- Jun 01, 2021
Good news for feds: The Biden administration is proposing a 2.7% increase in pay next year—if effected, the largest annual bump in pay in over a decade.
The figure, found in the Office of Management and Budget blueprint for spending next year, released just before the Memorial Day weekend, provides parity with the planned pay hike for military servicemembers—and to bolster the administration’s declared commitment to easing lower-paid feds up to a higher minimum wage standard.
“To help departments and agencies recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce, the Budget ensures more Federal employees are eligible for a $15 per hour wage,” the budget release states, “and provides funding for a pay increase averaging 2.7% across the federal civilian workforce, in parity with the military pay increase.”
Federal pay hikes are widely anticipated—but not always enacted—each year. For example, there was no pay hike for the years 2011, 2012 or 2013, consistent with a political wave in Congress at the time against pay raises and for pay freezes. In any case, when increases do occur—as happens most years—they are modest and designed to act as cost-of-living increases, or COLAs. For 2021, the increase was 1%.
In this respect, a dedicated body, the Federal Salary Council, does independent research and makes a base pay raise recommendation, based in part on a measure of nationwide price inflation. The FSC then adds to that base pay increase a higher pay bump in the form of locality pay, wherever appropriate.
A White House raise proposal, if it differs from the FSC numbers is known as the “alternate pay plan.” In the end, Congress can vote for the FSC’s number, the president’s number (normally specified in the White House budget proposal) or its own number regarding federal employee raises. However, if Congress fails to pass legislation specifying a pay raise—or no raise at all—under the law, the president’s “alternate” raise proposal takes effect.
At present, a group of Democrats in Congress have proposed an even higher base pay increase—3.2%.