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Federal Workers May Get Bigger Raises: Was Set for 2%, Might Be 2.9%

Federal Workers May Get Bigger Raises: Was Set for 2%, Might Be 2.9%

By John Fritze, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Despite President Obama’s call for federal employees to “do their part” and accept smaller-than-usual pay raises, Congress is considering a budget that could spend an additional $1.3 billion or more on pay for civilian federal workers.

While some states and private companies are slashing jobs and pay, Congress is advancing a budget that could change a 2% raise proposed by Obama for 1.9 million non-military federal workers to at least 2.9% — which is the amount the president proposed for military employees.

“It feels like this is not a good time to be taking a pay increase,” said Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group that supports freezing pay for civilian federal workers. “Everyone else in the country is taking huge cuts, losing jobs.”

The House and Senate are advancing versions of the budget that do not provide a specific pay raise amount, but call for equal raises for civilian and military workers.

Lawmakers reached parity in the past by increasing civilian raises rather than cutting the president’s proposed military pay, which would be politically difficult in a time of war. If civilian pay jumps to 2.9%, it would cost $1.3 billion, the Office of Management and Budget estimates.

General Schedule Pay Scale Guide
Need help understanding the General Schedule Pay Scale? Follow these chapters to understand why the system is in place, how 'the Man' determines your salary, and how you can make more money in your government job.

Chapter 1: The Federal Wage System: Introduction
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Chapter 2:The Federal Wage System: Overview and Facts
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Chapter 3: What Determines Which Grade and/or Step You Fall Under?
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Chapter 4: General Schedule Pay Scale Ranges
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Chapter 5: 2009 Government General Pay Schedule know exactly where you stand...

Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions About the GS Pay Scale
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Chapter 7: Federal Salaries: How to Talk Your Way Up the Scale
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Chapter 8: Related Articles and Links
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The budget is non-binding, and the final decision on pay will be made as lawmakers approve specific spending bills. As part of the current budget, Congress scrapped an automatic pay raise for itself that had been scheduled for next fiscal year.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., whose district is home to many federal workers, said in a statement e-mailed by his office that he is not necessarily seeking larger pay raises for civilian employees but wants pay increases for uniformed and white-collar workers to be equal.

He said he expects both will receive less than the 3.9% approved for this year.

“Military and civilian personnel … work side-by-side in carrying out the responsibility of government to protect the nation and provide services to American citizens,” Hoyer said in stating his case for equal pay.

Still, pressure is mounting to raise military pay, not reduce it. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this week there is bipartisan support for a 3.4% raise for the military.

The possibility of federal pay raises comes as a National Conference of State Legislatures survey found 20 states, including New York, California and Ohio, are considering or have enacted layoffs or furloughs to close budget gaps.

Max Stier, head of the Partnership for Public Service, said good pay helps the government recruit quality employees needed at a time of economic crisis.

“We’re asking more from our government than we have in a couple of generations,” said Stier, whose non-partisan group promotes effective government. “It would be penny-wise and pound-foolish to minimize pay to federal workers when we need so much from them.”

Courtesy of YellowBrix 2009

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