On the heels of the Obama administration's proposal of a 1.6 percent pay raise for federal employees in 2017, several employee unions voiced their concerns that the figure comes up far short.
"A 1.6 percent pay raise does nothing to make up for years of pay freezes and miniscule increases that have left federal employees worse off today than they were at the start of the decade," American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox said in a statement.
Obama announced the raise, which will be effective Jan. 1, in an Aug. 31 letter, the last day before he could submit an alternative pay plan before Congress. The raise includes a 1 percent bump for all federal employees, plus a 0.6 locality pay raise that varies depending on the area.
The raise is in line with the president's 2017 budget proposal from February and is 0.3 percent above the 2016 mark, but National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon did not find solace in the new figure.
"NTEU believes this is far too low given the last few years' erosion in federal pay — from the recent three-year pay freeze to the last three years of meager raises," he said in a statement. "We continue to highlight the impact on federal workers of low pay increases and the impact on federal agencies' ability to recruit and retain the skilled workforce our nation needs."
In fact, the president's budget noted that any raise less than 2.1 percent in 2017 would be the eighth consecutive pay increase to come in below the employment cost index, which measures the cost of labor.
As a result, the White House said that private sector salaries have now outpaced the federal government by 9 percent.
"This would be the largest relative pay cut over an eight-year period since the passage of [Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990] by a significant margin," the report said.
AFGE had previously announced its support for Rep. Gerald Connolly’s, D-Va., Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, which proposed a 5.3 percent raise for federal employees, but the bill hasn’t seen any movement in the House.
The president has the authority to propose a pay raise for federal employees and members of the military if Congress does not pass a bill addressing the issue. However, Congress can still pass a bill freezing pay or enacting a higher pay raise.
Obama has until Dec. 1 to propose any changes in locality pay before 2017.