In a surprising move President Obama has reversed his previous August 2016 pay rise proposal of 1.6%, made up of a 1% across the board plus 0.6% locality pay adjustment (see prior update below). In his latest executive order he is proposing a “revised” alternative 2017 total pay raise of 2.1%. This is still made up of a 1% across the board raise, but will now reflect a locality pay adjustment of 1.1%. This brings the total 2017 average pay increase to 2.1% (excluding promotions).
The revised plan was issued to match the higher 2.1% raise for military personnel in 2017 and an improving economic environment that has seen larger increases in private sector pay. While Congress and the new administration can reverse this in 2017, it is unlikely to do so at this late stage given all pay raises are in effect on January 1st, 2017. Here are some details from the presidential order around this pay raise adjustment:
I am transmitting an alternative plan for pay increases for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems in January 2017……Civilian Federal employees made significant sacrifices as a result of the 3-year pay freeze that ended in January 2014. Since the pay freeze ended, annual adjustments for civilian Federal employees have also been lower than private sector pay increases and statutory formulas for adjustments to the General Schedule for 2014 through 2016. However, we must maintain efforts to keep our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course. This is an effort that continues to require tough choices under current economic conditions.
The table below shows the 2017 GS Pay Table/Chart by Step and Grade that reflects the 1% across the board federal/national raise. The updated 1.2% locality pay adjustment will vary by state and I recommend you review the OPM charts for specific details. Uniformed service members will also receive a monthly basic pay increase of 2.1 percent as seen in the latest 2017 military pay charts
[2017 Trump Administration Update] – See why a 2018 GS Pay Raise may be at risk under a new Trump executive order to freeze government hiring.
[August 31st 2016, 2017 1.6% GS Pay Raise] The president has excised his executive power and given government employees on the GS pay scale and armed service members one of the largest raises in recent times. Civilian employees will receive a combined 1.6 percent raise (vs 1.3 percent last year) per the earlier update, which is made up of an across-the-board increase of 1 percent to the federal GS pay scale; with an additional 0.6 percent adjustment to locality pay. Adjustments will take place January 1st, 2017.
“I have determined that for 2017, across-the-board pay increases will be 1.0 percent,” Obama wrote in an Aug. 31 letter to congressional leaders. “Also, I will make a decision by November 30, 2016, regarding an alternative plan for locality payments under 5 U.S.C. 5304a. The alternative plan for locality payments will be limited so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and the varying locality pay increases will be 1.6 percent of basic payroll, consistent with the assumption in my 2017 budget. These decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.”
[2017 GS Pay Raise Update] Despite a low inflation environment it looks like the President may leave a nice farewell gift for Federal employees on the GS pay scale via a 1.6% pay raise in 2017. There are still many hoops to jump through to get this raise approved, with any proposed raises to go via various sub-committees, House of Representatives, Senate and President. And like last year even if the House rejects a pay rise the President can sign an executive order overriding this.
It is likely the 1.6% pay raise will be made up of an across the board GS Federal pay raise and locality pay adjustments. This will be clarified as details are fleshed out.
Here is the latest status of where the various key groups stand on the 2017 GS pay raise:
President (Executive) – Recommended a 1.6% pay increase for 2017. This will be formalized in late August based on Senate and House deliberations
House of Representatives – Passed the 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act (H.R. 5485). This bill did not rule out a pay raise (as done in the past) which means unless specific legislation is written the President’s recommendation for a pay raise of 1.6% for the federal workforce will likely become effective in January.
Senate – Legislation (S. 2699) sponsored by Democratic senator Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) proposes a whopping 5.3% raise next year. This is made up of a 3.9% federal pay boost, plus a 1.4% bump in locality pay for 2017. The figure is more than three times President Obama’s proposed 1.6 percent pay raise for federal workers in 2017.This raise is highly unlikely to pass.
[Updated for 2016 GS Pay Raise] In 2016, employees paid under the General Schedule (GS) system will get another 1% pay raise following the executive order signed into law by President Obama. This is the third consecutive year that GS eligible federal employees have received a 1% pay increase. The 2016 GS Pay table is show below and takes effect from January 1st. You can see the prior annual updates to this article for past year GS tables.
While the 2016 GS pay chart figures do not include adjustments for locality pay; the average increase for federal employees works out to 1.3% after adjusting for the locality pay increase.
(Per the President) I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my statutory alternative plan authority under 5 U.S.C. 5303(b) and 5304a to set alternative January 2016 across-the-board and locality pay adjustments. Specifically, I have determined that for 2016, across-the-board pay increases will be 1.0 percent. The alternative plan for locality payments will be limited so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and the varying locality pay increases will be 1.3 percent of basic payroll, consistent with the assumption in my 2016 Budget. These decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce.
The adjustments described above shall take effect on the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2016.
See this article for a full listing of 2016 locality pay increases.
[Updated for 2015 GS Pay Raise] In 2015, employees paid under the General Schedule (GS) system will get another 1% pay raise following the executive order signed into law by President Obama and latest data from the US Office of Personnel Management. This is the second consecutive year that GS eligible federal employees have received a 1% pay increase, after three years of pay freezes. The 2015 GS Pay table is show below and takes effect from January 1st. You can see the prior annual updates to this article for past year GS tables.
Other notable changes:
– Foreign Service and Veteran Health administration Schedules also increased by 1%, as did the the minimum salary for members of the Senior Executive Service (SES)
– Members of Congress, including the Vice President covered covered by the executive schedule will not get a raise this year
– Military staff will also receive a 1 percent pay raise as outlined in this article
– 2015 locality pay percentages will remain at 2014 levels
– Pay schedules will become effective the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after the first of the year (January 11, 2015, based on the standard 2015 payroll cycle).
[Updated for 2014 GS Pay Raise] Following the budget deal, President Obama issued an executive order approving a 1% pay increase in 2014 for federal employees who are paid under the General Schedule (GS) system. This is the first increase in three years. After years of congressional wrangling the increase was been endorsed for 2014. The updated 2014 GS Pay table is shown below and takes effect from January 1st. Locality pay will remain at 2013 levels.
The following official statement was released on the 2014 pay raise:
“This modest adjustment reflects the tight budget constraints we now face, while also recognizing the critical role these civilian employees play in our country – doing everything from assuring the safety of our food and airways, to securing our borders, to providing health care to veterans, to searching for cures to diseases. It also recognizes the sacrifices they have already made through pay freezes, reductions in benefits, and furloughs due to sequestration this year.”
[Updated – No 2013 GS pay rise] Well it looks the 2013 GS pay raise debate has finally been resolved with the President signing a new/updated executive order that continued the freeze on GS pay scales for federal civilian employees. This was after a 0.5% raise was initially approved, that has now been superseded with the latest executive order.
The latest executive order (issued March 26, 2013) also stated that any increase in pay schedules should not be made until after December 31, 2013. Which means that federal employees can expect no potential pay raises this year unless they get a promotion or within grade step increase.
[Updated Jan 2013] President Obama issue an executive order providing a 0.5% pay raise for employees on the Federal GS pay scale. The pay raise will take effect on March 27, 2013 when the latest budget freeze is lifted.
But the pay raise may still be blocked by Congress who passed a bill in the Republican controlled House (sponsored by Republican legislators Michael G. Fitzpatrick and Darrell Issa) that seeks to continue the GS pay freeze for over 2 million federal employees through the end of fiscal 2013. Their argument is based on the fact federal employees have continued to receive promotions and within-grade pay increases over the past few years of the supposed ‘pay freeze,’ and voluntary separations from the federal government are near all-time low.
[Updated Nov 2012] President Obama has gone along with Congress and signed a six-month government spending measure (continuing resolution), that means an extended pay freeze for federal employees and members of Congress; who will not see a pay rise or salary bump until April 2013 at the earliest. Per the earlier update below, President Obama had recommended a 0.5% pay raise for federal workers in 2013, conditional on Congress passing a budget. This did not happen amidst a deeply divided and partisan Congress and so the continuing resolution, to prevent a government shutdown, was enacted to fund services at current levels – which meant the multi-year GS pay freeze being extended. Individual employees on the GS scale still remain eligible for raises if they receive promotions, step increases or performance awards.
[Updated July 2013] In contrast to President Obama’s budget which included a 0.5% Federal employee (GS) pay raise in 2013, Congress has elected to exclude any federal pay raise provisions for next year from its annual government appropriation bills. The GS pay scale covers all federal workers, including civilian Defense Department employees, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.
The House Appropriations Committee, responsible for drafting the house federal budget proposal, advanced legislation via the Financial Services and General Government spending bill that does not contain a pay raise for federal workers in 2013. The Senate’s version of the annual appropriations legislation also omitted provisions for federal pay raises in 2013.
Following two years of pay freezes, many federal and state employees on the GS pay scale will be bitterly disappointed with another year of pay constraints. However critics of further government spending have said extending the current pay freeze is the most prudent course of action, as the government tackles mounting debt, a presidential election and a tough economy.
“For a bill that is largely comprised of salaries and expenses for numerous federal agencies, this allocation, if enacted into law, would result in a substantial reduction in services to the public, severely hinder many very basic functions of government and cause furloughs, layoffs and vacancies at a time when employment remains the nation’s top concern,” said committee ranking member Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.).
“We get these false statements that federal employees are making more money than the private sector…..I don’t know what federal employees they’re talking about. I know the ones in my office aren’t.”said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
A 2013 Pay Raise Still Possible
Despite the lack of provisions for a 2013 GS pay raise in both the House and Senate bills, federal workers may still get a pay hike in 2013. The president has the authority to determine a raise based on the Employment Cost Index if Congress fails to explicitly block a pay raise. Further a pay raise can also be proposed in other bills, which are funded differently. No such bills are currently active in Congress, but could be proposed before the final raise (or lack thereof) is set in stone at the end of September 2012.
If GS levels remain unchanged, then the only way for a 2013 pay rise is a step increase or promotion to a higher GS grade level.