A bill from Democratic lawmakers would provide federal workers with a 4.1% across-the-board boost, along with an average 1% increase in locality pay.
Democrats in both chambers of Congress on Thursday introduced legislation that would grant federal employees an average 5.1% pay raise in 2023.
The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., in the House and by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Senate, would increase federal workers’ basic pay by 4.1% across the board next year, and provide an average 1% increase in locality pay.
The bill is similar to previous efforts by the lawmakers to secure a bigger pay raise for federal employees, although the legislation is rarely acted upon. Last year, the lawmakers pushed for feds to receive an average 3.2% pay increase, but the bill failed to gain traction, leading to President Biden implementing an average 2.7% raise for both civilian federal employees and military service members.
This year, the bill has the support of eight cosponsors in the House, all of whom represent the Washington, D.C., region, and 10 senators, all Democrats. Connolly said in a statement that federal employees deserve a 5.1% raise due to their dedication to service during the Trump administration and two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For two years, federal employees have risked their health and safety working on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Connolly said. “For four years prior, they were subjected to the Trump administration’s cruel personal attacks, unsafe work environments, pay freezes, government shutdowns, sequestration cuts, furloughs and mindless across-the-board hiring freezes. Still, our federal workforce serves with dedication and distinction every day. Federal employees are our government’s single greatest asset, and they deserve better.”
The bill quickly drew endorsements from unions and other federal employee groups. Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said such a raise is vital, particularly in light of recent metrics measuring inflation.
“Like all workers in this country, federal employees are experiencing higher costs for housing, food, medical insurance and other basic necessities due to wages that have not kept pace with inflation,” Kelley said. “But unlike other employees, federal workers depend on Congress for their annual pay raises-and these adjustments in recent years have fallen short.”
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association National President Ken Thomas said the FAIR Act would put federal workers’ pay increases in line with private sector wage growth.
“This 4.1% across-the-board pay increase would allow the federal government to better compete with the private sector to attract and retain a highly qualified, top-performing federal workforce, as well as improve morale of current employees,” Thomas said. “The proposed raise for 2023 would represent the biggest pay raise in nearly two decades; feds last saw a 4.1% hike in 2004 under President George W. Bush.”
National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon added that it is important for the government to provide sizeable raises in an effort to retain federal workers at a time where employees in the private sector are increasingly leaving their jobs, particularly over the issue of pay.
“The pandemic has caused an upheaval in the labor market and rising costs continue to chip away at federal employee paychecks,” he said. “Our nation’s public servants deserve a pay increase that brings their salaries closer to their counterparts in the private sector.”