December 23, 2013, 03:23 pm
Obama gives federal workers pay raise
By Erik Wasson
President Obama on Monday ordered pay increases for federal workers and members of the military effective in the new year.
Federal workers and uniformed military members will receive a 1 percent cost-of-living increase starting in January while locality pay will remain the same as in 2013.
Obama announced his intention to increase federal worker pay in an August letter to Congress.
As part of the budget negotiations between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Obama increase was allowed to go forward. The deal cut retirement benefits for future civilian workers and for military retirees.
This is the first increase civlian federal workers have received since a pay freeze went into effect in January 2011. The increase applies to administration officials from Vice President Joe Biden on down and to the judiciary.
"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," the White House said in a statement.
The White House noted that under current law, federal worker pay could have risen by 1.3 percent — equivalent to cost of living minus 0.5 percent. By only allowing a 1 perecent increase, Obama's action saves $7 billion over ten years.
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) hailed the increase but said more needed to be done.
“Today’s announcement by the president provides much-needed relief for America’s hard-working, middle-class federal employees whose paychecks have been frozen while the cost of gas, groceries and housing has increased,” NARFE President Joseph Beaudoin said.
“As the pay gap between private- and public-sector workers has grown, ending the three-year pay freeze for public workers is an important investment in maintaining the strength of the federal workforce.”
The group noted that employment costs officially went up 1.8 percent this year, so the Obama increase means federal workers are still losing compared to inflation.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hailed the pay increase as "long overdue"
"Given that these hardworking public servants have already contributed nearly $114 billion toward deficit reduction and some were furloughed as a result of the shutdown and the sequester, it is long overdue," Hoyer said.