Budget 2012: Civilian and military pay increases
Updated 12:35 p.m. ET
President Obama's proposed 2012 budget recommends a 1.6 percent pay increase for members of the military and keeps federal civilian salaries frozen at current levels.
Obama instituted a two-year pay freeze for federal employees in November, but workers may still receive bonuses or pay increases if they earn a promotion.
"This freeze does not reflect on the performance of federal workers; rather, it reflects the shared sacrifices we must make," the budget proposal said.
The civilian freeze should save about $28 billion over the next five years by lowering the government's base compensation over the next two years, according to the White House.
Obama's pay proposals ignore the bipartisan fiscal commission's recommendation that the government freeze federal civilian and military pay at 2011 levels for three years.
Notably, the administration's proposals say nothing about what should happen to civilian and military pay after fiscal 2012, leaving open the possibility that the administration will call for a longer pay freeze or pay cuts.
Federal workers received a 2 percent pay bump in 2010, a 3.9 percent raise in 2009 and a 3.5 percent increase in 2008.
Proposals released Friday by House Republicans to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011 would curtail spending on federal employees by targeting salaries and expenses accounts at a number of agencies. Doing so would put pressure on accounts that pay for salaries, travel, training and other overhead spending. In such situations, agencies commonly resort to hiring freezes. The GOP proposals would not directly impact salary levels because pay is set by separate law.
Using statistics from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, the administration also defends the generally higher rate of pay for federal employees. More than half of federal workers work in the nine highest-paying occupations (lawyers, judges, engineers, pilots, scientists, human resources managers, nuclear plant inspectors) compared to just less than a third of private sector workers, the administration said.
Federal compensation "receives a great deal of public scrutiny," but raw comparisons between average federal pay versus average private sector pay "mask important differences in the skill levels, complexity of work, scope of responsibility, size of organization, location, experience level, and special requirements, as well as exposure to personal danger," according to the administration.
Federal worker union leaders, who disagreed with Obama's pay freeze, were generally pleased with Monday's proposals. John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said he especially appreciated that the budget wouldn't cut health insurance or retirement programs for federal workers.
Staff writer Eric Yoder contributed to this report.
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RELATED: Full 2012 Budget coverage
| February 14, 2011; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: Budget, Workplace Issues
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