Federal employees’ biggest obstacle to seeing a bump to their salaries in 2020 appears to have been lifted, as the White House announced Aug. 30 that it intended to reverse the planned pay freeze for feds and instead institute a 2.6 percent across the board increase.
“As noted in my Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, our pay system must reform to align with mission-critical recruitment and retention goals, and to reward employees whose performance provides value for the American people,” Trump wrote in a letter to the Speaker of the House.
“My Administration will continue to support reforms that advance these aims.”
Trump announced in March that he intended to freeze federal pay for 2020 in order to shift federal compensation to more of a pay-for-performance model. The plan echoed a 2019 pay freeze for feds that was instituted by executive order before congressional budget legislation overturned it.
The new plan to increase pay by 2.6 percent would only impact base pay and would freeze locality pay increases, which are used to bump the pay of employees that live in expensive areas.
According to Trump’s letter, if locality pay increases were to follow the standard equation for yearly adjustments, the rise in locality pay would average at about 24 percent and cost the government $24 billion in its first year.
“President Trump’s action to provide federal employees with a 2.6 percent across-the-board pay raise next year is a positive step for the public servants who keep our country running every day. Federal employees have endured years of pay freezes and incremental adjustments that have failed to keep pace with inflation, and federal agencies are struggling to recruit and retain employees due to noncompetitive salaries that lag private-sector standards,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. in a statement.
“But the pay raise falls short by failing to provide any locality-based pay adjustments, which are essential if the government is ever going to make real progress is closing the wage gap between the federal and private sectors.”
Funding legislation passed by the House would have also increased federal base pay by 2.6 percent, while also granting a .5 percent bump on average to locality payments.
Such an adjustment would constitute the largest federal employee pay increase in the last decade and put federal employees on parity with the planned increase for military personnel.
“I call on Congress to finish what the White House has started by approving the House-passed pay raise during upcoming budget negotiations,” said Cox.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.