The legislation passed by the House on Wednesday that would extend the current two-year pay freeze for federal workers through 2013 is premised on a selective understanding of federal pay data.
The bill (H.R. 3835), introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., would extend the salary freeze for federal employees and members of Congress, eliminating cost of living adjustments until the end of 2013.
House Republicans defended the measure on the House floor, citing a recent Congressional Budget Office report that found federal workers made 16 percent more in average pay and benefits than private sector employees. But the CBO also found that those with professional and doctorate-level degrees actually earn about 23 percent less than those with the same degrees in the private sector.
More specifically, federal IT workers also fall behind their private sector counterparts on pay. A survey released last week by IT jobs website Dice.com found that salaries for government IT workers were slightly below the national average. Salaries for government tech workers averaged $79,605 in 2011, while the average salary for tech workers in all industries was $81,327, Dice found.
Federal unions voiced their opposition to the bill, noting that extending the pay freeze could have a significant impact on federal recruitment and retention.
"At a time when our nation faces threats both foreign and domestic, military and monetary, we cannot afford a second rate federal workforce defending our borders, supporting our troops overseas and ensuring the safety of our food supply," said William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. "We cannot afford to undermine pay and retirement benefits for middle class workers with increasingly precarious economic situations."