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2011 Budget: 1.4% civilian and military pay raise

By Ed O'Keefe


President Obama speaks at the White House on Monday about his 2011 budget. From left are, Council of Economic Council Chair Christina Romer, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, OMB Director Peter Orszag and economic adviser Lawrence Summers. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Updated 2:10 p.m. ET

Civilian federal employees and the military would get a 1.4 percent pay increase next year, according to President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget proposal.

That's much lower than the 2 percent civilian pay jump this year and the military's 3.4 percent increase. The proposed military pay bump is the smallest bump since 1973.

"It is lower than it has been in the past because inflation is lower than it has been in the past," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said on Monday morning.

"Frankly, I think to a lot of Americans that sounds pretty good," he said.

The proposed increase means federal workers unions have successfully achieved pay parity, or the practice of giving military and civilian federal workers the same percentage pay increase.

Despite that achievement, Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the proposed raises are "very low."

William R. Dougan, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, called the increase "a modest adjustment," but acknowledged that "a modest increase is better than no increase at all."

"It’s a mixed bag," said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation's largest federal worker union. "I’ve certainly seen worse, and I certainly hope for better with the Obama administration, but I think we understand where the president is and I’m hoping that we will have an open door when we come in for adjustments in this budget on some of the key issues that affect federal employees."

Dougan, Gage and Kelley said their unions will work with the military and lawmakers to secure a higher pay raise.

“I believe that all federal employees, whether civilian or military, are deserving of a fair pay raise,” Kelley said.

Remember: Obama's proposal is just that -- a proposal -- so both civilians and military personnel could eventually see a higher pay raise.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 1, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
Categories:  Budget, Workplace Issues  
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Next: 2011 Budget: Spending cuts and reductions

Comments

1.5% is joke. To add further insult, he mocks the pay parity issue by proposing a 1.4% military raise. Hopefully Congress will do right by us but I look for Obama to pull the same stunt next year that he did this year, using his executive authority to overide Congress. Pathetic.

Posted by: dem4life1 | February 1, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

They're already overpaid.

Posted by: OldHippie | February 1, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Other than the military, no one in the Government, especially Congress, should get a pay raise till the budjet defecit is cut substantially!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | February 1, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Federal pay raises...??

Uncle Sugar needs to start layoffs en masse.

We private sector taxpayers are stone broke. Even those on SS get no COLA for 2 years.

No wonder ALL incumbents are in deep doo-doo come November.

Posted by: bandcyuk | February 1, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

bandcyuk:

Your comment is factually incorrect. SS recipients got a cola last year, not this year.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/colaseries.html

Posted by: samps | February 1, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The story doesn't compare what federal employees make to what private business employees make for doing the same type job. CNBC analysis said last week that fed employees averaged about $70,000 a year while private business employees averaged about $40,000. And the story doesn't say that federal employees have three times more benefits than private employees. Private sector employees didn't get a raise in retirement benefits or SS benefits.

Posted by: tonyjm | February 1, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

CNBC analysis said last week that fed employees averaged about $70,000 a year while private business employees averaged about $40,000.
======================================
I didn't see that report, but is it comparing the federal workforce to the entire workforce? The feds, on the whole, tend to have more degrees and doing more white-collar type work. Not many federal janitors, for example. But certainly some very highly skilled people who fix the elevators, keep the heating and cooling systems going, etc.

Did they do direct comparisons with job titles and duties? Administrative assistant in the private sector compared to a federal administrative assistant?

Posted by: Skowronek | February 1, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

want to see fraud, waste etc in action just go to any federal building.

want a fun time seeing just how badly the fed's are paid. see how much a GS-5, 11 or 13 makes and the bennies they get when they relocate, move. after 2 years it is almost impossible to fire one of these slugs.

and they get a flex-time 40 hour week with the 40 hours starting when they leave home.

hey nice!~

Posted by: KBlit | February 1, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I haven't seen any Federal employees and their families going to the poorhouse lately. On the other hand, if you're going to expect your Federal government to perform well (despite the maneuvering of their political appointee leaders and the machinations of Congress), you've got to be able to attract and retain capable people. You don't do that by buying 'em a Christmas Turkey or giving 'em free tickets to a couple of baseball games.

Posted by: Watersville | February 1, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I hear the resentment, but that average salary quoted on CNBC is just that.. an average, which doesn't span across all positions, locations, or grading scales, especially in technical fields. There are still plenty of career Federal employees who make less than $20-30k and they still pay taxes and have families just like everybody else. Federal employees have not been exempt from feeling the pain of the recession/depression. Although they recieve healthcare, it is not free by far, and being paid for life for 30+ years of service is no longer an option. You can actually outlive your money under the new pay system implemented 15 years ago or so rather quickly. And while the federal government is hiring, there have been many agencies that are also downsizing or rightsizing. So being a Public Servant, while there is some security and opportunities, it's not like it use to be. There are more good federal employees than bad. So people shouldn't come down so hard on Federal workers, if they don't know the real deal.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | February 1, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Pay raise? What's the justification? Or, in other words, WTF?

Posted by: Tess6 | February 1, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I really do not know where the people posting here get their information. OPM publishes the salary ranges and if you take a look at the newly published GS tables, a salary of $170,000 for a federal worker as USA Today and CNBC reported is impossible. The limit for compensation is $155,500. That is a statutory limit. Under the GS system, that is the top salary for a GS 15 Step 10 employee and generally, those positions are occupied by people with a lot of experience who are close to retirement. It would be the equivalent in the private sector of an employee with an advanced degree and 25 years of experience in management. Most workers earn substantially less. Further, the notion of "overtime" cited in these articles is absurd. Only hourly employees earn overtime and hourly employees are generally not highly paid. Anyone in the GS system or the Demonstration Programs is salaried and salaried federal employees cannot earn overtime.
Please do a little research (that includes USA Today and CNBC) before writing misinformation as if it were the truth.

www.opm.gov

Posted by: Prosperity2008 | February 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

CNBC analysis said last week that fed employees averaged about $70,000 a year while private business employees averaged about $40,000.
======================================
Private employment also includes basically all minimum wage jobs (retail, fast food, etc.) The answer to "who makes more?" varies depending on the job. If you compare the occupational surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'll get an idea of how federal salaries compare to private sector salaries. Some jobs pay more in the private sector (ex. lawyers), some pay more in the government (ex. chemists, other scientists), and some are about the same in each (ex. management analyst).

Posted by: acb1 | February 1, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Every little bit helps. I hear the resentment of some posters, but the average salary of $70k for federal employees that was mentioned, was just that..an average, which in no way relays the full relation to posistions, locations, and payscales. There are still plenty of career federal employees who make less than $20-30K and they pay taxes and have families too. Federal employees have not been exempt from feeling the pain of the recession/depression and many of them have lost their homes too. And as for benefits, although Federal employees have healthcare, it is in no way free, by far. Moreover, under the new retirement system implimented 13+ years ago it is very possible to outlive your money unless you make additional investments somewhere--just like in private. You don't get paid til you die anymore. Eventhough the Federal government is hiring, as you've read, there are some agencies that are downsizing/rightsizing. So job security, while better than private, isn't always guaranteed anymore. So lighten up a bit unless you know the real deal.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | February 1, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

KBlit- goodness, since when did my workday start when I left the house? I certainly don't remember seeing that on my time report- I start the workday when I get here, not when I leave the home. If you're going to complain, at least be accurate about it.

As for the comparison in pay, this sounds like those studies that say men earn X amount more than women. Well, that's because they do different type of jobs! If you want an accurate comparison, you need to look at the same type of jobs. In my area, I could make probably $20,000 to $50,000 more on the outside(in the same field). If I got a job doing what I have my degree in, I might make that much as well. The retention rate here is not that great for that (and other) reasons. Before the recession, the average percent leaving was 5-10% per year. Since it takes a while to do the job well, they try and keep people rather than training new ones all the time. That's what the salary is for. And to do my job(and the 5,000 others doing the same job), you need a degree in science or engineering, which is clearly not a requirement for most jobs in the private sector.

And flex-time, yes I get that. But I guess you'd rather I added to the traffic trying to get into work at 8 AM rather than taking the train at 5:45 AM. If you work your time and don't need to interact with others to do your job, why does it matter when I get in?

Posted by: barbaramusser | February 1, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Here's my analysis: From what I see, I suggest that the Federal Government follow the policies that they ask of Corporate America and halt salary increases and cut the health and retirement benefits of their workforce. For why should I continue to be required to pay more for our government services, while I am encouraged by the same to make do, with less. So, please tell me again, Why ?

Posted by: jralger | February 1, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Why, jralger? Because your analysis is based on emotional arguments rooted in your personal experience and half-truths instead of cold, hard data. Back it up with some numbers - real numbers, not just stuff you heard on TV - and people will listen.

Posted by: acb1 | February 1, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Why are the feds getting a cost of living raise but not the seniors? Sheesh, the feds are overpaid as it is.

Posted by: 0460 | February 1, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

FELLOW AMERICANS OPEN YOUR EYES!!

OUR COUNTRY AND WAY OF LIFE IS IN PERIL!!!

www.AMERICAWAKEUPNOW.net

Posted by: AMERICAWAKEUP | February 1, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

If there are any Federal employees on this comment board (and I suspect that there are), let me remind you that you are RIGHT NOW on the taxpayer dime, and should be working, rather than reading and commenting on the newspaper.

Posted by: Buddydog | February 1, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to thank my fellow federal employees for commenting on here. Many times resentful folks post false information about federal employees and I am glad they are being refuted. As someone who has worked for the federal government (1 year) and for private sector (8 years) I have this observation. Private sector or public sector, it is always a mix of driven hard workers and some folks who are less so. In private sector I've never experienced 100% of employees giving it their all everyday, nor have I seen that on the federal side. It's all the same. The anger at federal employees boggles my mind. If you want great benefits join a union. They are there to help you, the worker.

Posted by: dkinmd | February 1, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Actually buddy, I'm on my lunch break. Thanks for being my time keeper.

Posted by: dkinmd | February 1, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought failing businesses shouldn't be rewarding their employees????? If the government was an actual business, it would be completely insolvent. Once again, incompetence is rewarded if you're a federal employee. No wonder the private sector dismisses public sector work experience, it's a joke.

Posted by: savethepcbs | February 1, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

If there are any Federal employees on this comment board (and I suspect that there are), let me remind you that you are RIGHT NOW on the taxpayer dime, and should be working, rather than reading and commenting on the newspaper.

Posted by: Buddydog | February 1, 2010 12:47 PM

You do realize that there are plenty of feds who do not work the day shift, right?

Posted by: Skowronek | February 1, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

You can fire a bad private sector employee, it is impossible to fire a bad government employee. There have been NO layoffs in the federal government, and very little in state and local governments. The brunt of this recession is about taxpayers footing the bill for government workers to be oblivious to the misery of what is going on in this economy.

The $100,000/year pedophile teacher with tenure who has been sitting in the NYC rubber room running his real estate business while collecting his salary and benefits is what unions have done to this country. Protecting the very bad from being fired, just so the unions can collect dues. They don't care about taxpayers, children, the disabled, etc. They forget who they serve, these "workers" believe they work for union bosses and not for the taxpayer.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | February 1, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I trust no federal employee or their union will complain, after all, the Bush Administration overpaid them by several percentage points and they want to sacrafice for the greater good.

Posted by: falconflight | February 1, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting how all the right wing nuts who decry socialism become closet socialist when they think someone else is making one dime more than they are.

The fact is that federal workers tend to be heavily "degreed" and white collar workers. Not much need for a plow boy or a farm worker in the federal govt.

So, all of you closet socialist sit down and shut up . . . and go get an education and useful skills! That is capitalism at its best!

Posted by: TheChampishere | February 1, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse


The military deserves the raise, but the civilians do not. Rtaher than giving the civilians a raise they should give it all to the military.

Posted by: maphound | February 1, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting how all the right wing nuts who decry socialism become closet socialist when they think someone else is making one dime more than they are.

The fact is that federal workers tend to be heavily "degreed" and white collar workers. Not much need for a plow boy or a farm worker in the federal govt.

So, all of you closet socialist sit down and shut up . . . and go get an education and useful skills! That is capitalism at its best!

**

I also didn't hear any of you nut jobs complaining after 8 years of Bush/Cheney in which 3 and 4 percent COLA's were given out EVERY single year! Obama has proposed a more modest increase of 2 percent this year and 1.4 per cent next year . . . less than half of what Bush gave the federal worker EVERY year!

You morons sit down and shut up!

Posted by: TheChampishere | February 1, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

No matter who you work for,get as much
money as you can. Love each other, and
share what you have. It can be found in
the good book page 444.

Posted by: jdr4488 | February 1, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The last thing a Fed employee should do is complain.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 1, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

This pay raise is insulting when state employees are facing mass layoffs and HUGE pay cuts due to the state budget crises. Obama should reconsider this federal pay raise.

Posted by: Sprintaway1 | February 1, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Guys: I'm not angry, or calling anyone lazy or incompetent. But, to me the issue is simply as follows. Can we (The taxpayers) afford to continue offering our employees (Govt. workers) salaries, locality pay, and an array of generous benefits at the present rate and still give them cost of living increases? Again, I'm not angry or calling anyone incompetent, and its not even federal employee fault, but we (the Government) have a huge budget defeicit. So, exactly where is this money supposed to come from?

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | February 1, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Once again the thinking of responsible people are dammed! The morale of the citizens of the USA would be well served with "only must spend dollars and "austerity in those dollars spent"! My Senator Finegold-WI, voted not to increase the Debt limit. He was right.
With management,people's confidence in the future should even go up with their spending, a help to cure our money problem? Many also need an economic, not political rate of interest on their savings. No help from the budget here.
Washington only responds to written rules on manageing the finances of the Country. What a bad example for everyone worldwide! The day of disaster is coming.

Posted by: WJJAWEST | February 1, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Federal employee. I took a sizable pay CUT when leaving the private sector. By benefits are about the same. In fact, I've lost several benefits.

Too many people have the wrong idea about Federal employment. I don't see anyone that's paid more than what the private sector pays. Do I see deadwood? Absolutely, and that's a problem. But no one should be claiming that Federal employees are paid more than those in the private sector, for the same work. Across the board, it's not true.

All of this said, I'm happy for a 1.4% raise, when that's better than a layoff.

Posted by: jay_em_gee | February 1, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

The Navy has been plagued with problems like these. Too bad they didn't opt to build the Montana class battleships, instead.

http://www.naval-technology.com/features/feature2184/

Posted by: Skowronek | February 1, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Shoot. My reply regarding the unbuilt battleship class is in response to PracticalIndepent's post at 3.37 p.m.

The magazine, "Proceedings", has had plenty of letters and articles detailing the various failings of various new, expensive naval platforms.

Posted by: Skowronek | February 1, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

so for the second year in a row, feds get a pay raise, but those retired or on social security don't.

Makes sense to me. I mean, after all, they're doing such a great job.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | February 1, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

All Federal "workers" should get a 10% cut in salary and 20% should be fired. Do you think anyone would notice?

Posted by: bnichols6 | February 1, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"You can fire a bad private sector employee, it is impossible to fire a bad government employee. " Cornell1984

Gee, I work for the Government and I've removed (fired) three employees from Government service, two for poor performance and one for creating a hostile work environment.

So either I'm superman or Cornell1984 is sadly misinformed.

Posted by: rrosen3 | February 1, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow. It's always fun to read the posts by folks who know and those who perceive they do. It's realistic that the President and Congress determine the pay packages for GS/SES/ES employees. It's not appropriate to determine public sector pay to include those they want to decide. That's the Board's work. Back to this issue; I suspect that at the end of the day, the 1.6% will equal 2010 at a minimum. Members of Congress know Federal employees are voters too.

Posted by: spike8466 | February 1, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that federal employees are slotted for raises when most State and local government employees are being furloughed, having pay reductions and more. As one of those, I have complained little, realizing that I, unlike many, have a job and good benefits. I work hard and keep hoping for a day when government employees who work for governments which BALANCE their budgets are recognized for their years of giving up COLAS, paying extra for their benefits and the like.

Posted by: sbbenzil | February 1, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Freeze sounds more appropriate, given what's happening in ever sector except investment banks.

Posted by: edismae | February 1, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

KBlit wrote - "want a fun time seeing just how badly the fed's are paid. see how much a GS-5, 11 or 13 makes and the bennies they get when they relocate, move. after 2 years it is almost impossible to fire one of these slugs.

and they get a flex-time 40 hour week with the 40 hours starting when they leave home.

hey nice!~"

It would help this converstaion if people had their facts straight before they started complaining. I am a federal employee and my work day begins when I hit my chair at my desk and ends when I leave (and no flex time allowed). Nobody at any location I have worked in gets paid for commuting. Regarding the "bennies" we get when we relocate - please share. My family has moved twice, each time requiring my wife to find a new job and pulling my kids from school. The governemnt paid for the cost of the move, no more. I was given $700 for incidental expenses (car registrations, driver's license fees, utility hook ups). Anybody who has moved knows that out of pocket expenses total well more than $700. We also lost money when we sold our previous home. All in all, the move cost me money out of my pocket and I now have an 8 hour drive to visit family.

If you want to compare private sector jobs to governemnt jobs, please make honest comparisons. Compare attorneys-attorneys, secretaries-secretaries, IT specialists-IT-specialists. If you are comparing benefits, compare entire benefit packages to each other, not just one portion (ie, a relative of mine gets employee discounts from his employer even after he retires). And finally, please don't cast all federal employees in one light. There are many different types of federal employees and many of them work very hard. If you think fed employees are the fat cats, check out the sky boxes at any sporting event, home owners in the most expensive neighborhoods, or any Forbes list and tell us how many people got there on their government salaries. How many people in Washington DC make over $500,000/year? How many are government employees?

Posted by: justanotherguy | February 2, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Oldhippie,

I am appauled that you would think that way. As an individual serving my country in the US military, I have been deployed away from my family, missing my kids birthdays, holidays, and aniversarys. So exactley what is the military being overpaid? For working hard long hours away from their families, and for some not coming home alive. Its people like you that are cowards that dont have the intestinal fortitude to serve in the military. This liberal government is going to be the fall of the United States.

Posted by: oklafball2001 | February 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Hello to all,

As afed employee who is not a office based worker, (Im a federal firefighter) and a former US Marine, i can say that Im amazed that some people can look at pay sheets and general information and think that they know how a federal employee is paid. I have been doing this job for over 10 years, and a non federal employye with the same time, experiance and training as I have makes almost twice what i do gross. then has the same or equalivalant benefits.
Also I am a GS 5 and have been for several years, and as far as the posting about a GS-5 step 11 or 13 I have never met one of those in my entire career. for the most part unless a person takes a job where pay must be comperable to a previous posistion, there is not people that stay at a GS-05 posistion for a long enough time to get that high in step increases. Also a GS-05 spends most of there time actually living below the poverty level, especially during the winter when over time is near impossible to come by. Also pay rates and increases in pay drive any sector of employee to find other jobs. We loose many people to non federal jobs every year because the pay is better. The truth of the matter is that this low of a pay increase will basically count as no increase of pay to me. Please consider that not everyone that works for you, the taxpayer has forgotten that, or gets ridiculous pay rates. We in the dirt still know who we work for and pay taxes ourselves. Thank you.

Posted by: afedemployee | February 8, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

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