Will Feds Get a Pay Raise in 2004? Readers Voice Their Opinions

Most readers expect a raise of about 4% this year.

Will Federal employees get a pay raise under the GS schedule this year? If they do get one, how much will the raise be? And, finally, what pay raise do readers think Federal employees under the GS schedule should get this year?

A few days ago, we posed these questions to our readers. Most readers are optimistic with the overwhelming majority saying they will get a raise. 86% said they will get a raise this year, 1% said they would not and 13% are not sure.

As to how much the raise will be, a few are very optimistic. 3% expect a raise of 10% or more. (Our advice: Don’t spend that extra 10% yet; the check is not in the mail.) Another 3% expect a raise of between 5-10%. The majority of respondents (55%) expect a raise of 4%. 24% of readers anticipate receiving a raise of about 3% and a few pessimists (16%) expect a raise of 2% or less.

The final question is revealing. What raise do readers think GS employees should receive? 45% of those responding think a raise in the area of 5-10% should be coming their way. 16% think it should be 10% or more. 32% think 4% is about what they should be getting; 5% think 3% or less is fair. And, coming in at the bottom of the pack, 2% think there should not be a raise this year (Obviously not all FedSmith.com readers are Federal employees under the GS schedule).

The comments readers submitted fell into several categories.

First, representing comments from respondents who thought that Feds should not get a pay raise, is this comment from a reader in Tennessee:

“With the huge deficit, recession and high unemployment, Feds should not get a salary increase this year.”

Several employees are worried more about keeping their jobs than getting a pay raise. An employee from FEMA (now in the new Dept. of Homeland Security) says: “Here’s to hoping we get an increase, but frankly I am more concerned about keeping my position PERIOD!”

Obviously this view was in the minority.

A number of comments related to the amount of the pay raise. One FAA employee from Kansas City thinks Feds will get a raise of 3% this year for this reason:

“The economy is in chaos, the deficit higher than ever. Government employees should receive no increase, but with Congress saying 4.1, I believe Bush will go along with 3%. He doesn’t seem to mind an unbalanced budget. Also, Bush needs gov’t support in the next election.”

The comments in support of a pay raise fell into several categories. Recent publicity on “parity” of pay between civilian and military employees was on the minds of many. Typical of the comments on this subject was this one from an IRS manager in Lanham, Maryland who said: “I certainly believe in pay parity between the military and the rest of the federal work force.”

A Navy employee (apparently a civilian) wrote: “The Federal employees who are supporting any of the military services should receive at least as much raise as the military personnel receive. They never do…and the employees are the ones who are constant…doing most of the work.”

A VA employee in St. Petersburg, FL just wants a big raise for these reasons:

“The military, congress and everybody else except federal employees have received a great pay increase. It’s time our time!”

A number of readers are of the opinion that Federal employees get a lot less than private sector employees. The comments from a procurement analyst in Alexandria, VA reflect this view:

“4% is certainly acceptable for cost of living increase, but what happened to the attempt to bring us commensurate with the private sector – in which case 4% isn’t doing much to get us there.”

A financial analyst from Hill AFB has a more pessimistic outlook:

“I have been a Federal employee for over 20 years, the last decent raise we received was under President Nixon. It appears that this country’s problems are all put on the backs of the Federal employee. Yes, I should be happy to have a job in these trying times. I am and so are my fellow employees, none the less, I still think we are deserving of a decent pay raise.”

An Interior Department employee from Kalispell, Montana wrote:

“Our pay has lagged behind the private equivalent for years. The federal pay rate is not catching up to the private sector. It is time for Congress to pay federal employees a fair wage.”

A number of employees also cite their hard work and “doing more with less” as justification for a higher raise. This comment came from an analyst at Ft. Leonard Wood: “GS workers should receive an increase due to the increase of their workload due to downsizing and reorganization.”

Our thanks to all readers who took the time to send in their vote and their opinion.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47