Biden to propose the highest pay rise for US feds in 20 years, at 4.6%

By on 15/02/2022 | Updated on 15/02/2022
The 4.6% pay rise would be the biggest pay hike federal workers have seen since the George W. Bush administration granted the workforce the same increase in 2002. Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has told agencies to plan for a 4.6% pay rise for federal employees in 2023.

The information was contained in the OMB’s ‘passback’ – the formal response it gives to government departments on their budget submissions – as reported by Federal News Network, which has obtained the document.  

The 4.6% pay rise would be the biggest pay hike federal workers have seen since the George W. Bush administration granted the workforce the same increase in 2002.

This year, civilian federal employees received an average 2.7% pay rise comprising an across-the-board 2.2% increase and an additional 0.5% locality pay adjustment – a system by which federal employees in more expensive areas are compensated for higher living costs.

Although plans for the reported raise have not yet been finalised, lawmakers have already begun praising president Joe Biden for the decision.

“I am pleased that president Biden will include a 4.6% pay raise for federal employees and military service members in his upcoming budget, honouring the principle of pay parity that I have long advocated for in the US Congress,” House majority leader Steny Hoyer said, as reported by Government Executive. “This raise would be the workforce’s largest increase in 20 years, and well deserved for our both hardworking civil servants and military personnel who play an essential role in our country and our democracy.”  

Boosting morale

Representative Don Beyer said the raise would boost morale and “help make the federal government a more attractive employer to the talent we want to attract to the civil service”. He said he would “work diligently” to help advance the proposal over the coming year.

Shalanda Young – who serves as acting director of the OMB and is Biden’s nominee to take the top job long-term – said earlier this month that the budget request is expected to go to Congress after the president’s State of the Union address on 1 March.  

Support for the proposal is expected to be strong among Democrats. Both House and Senate Democrats introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act at the beginning of the year, which would give federal employees a 5.1% raise, including a 1% increase in locality pay.

Union view

Steve Lenkart, executive director of the National Federation of Federal Employees, told Global Government Forum that federal unions “are elated” that the Biden administration recognised the impact that inflation and the rising cost of living is having on the government workforce.

The 4.6% pay rise “goes a very long way to relieve federal workers of the financial pressures they are facing from inflation, as is the rest of the American public. Not only have prices for food and energy increased, so have the costs of childcare and housing. 

“Federal employees make on average around a third less in salary than their private sector counterparts, most of which was caused by pay freezes and tepid annual increases over the last 20 years. For 2023, 4.6% means a lot and helps to keep the wage gap from expanding more, but 5.1% goes a little further.”

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

One Comment

  1. anonomus says:

    What about federal contractors – they havent gotten a raise in over 10 years. Must be only federal employees need raises – they dont make enough as it is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *