Military Gets Pay 4%+ Raise Plus Housing Allowance Increase

“Pay parity” between civilian and military personnel became a slogan this year for those advocating higher pay for federal civilian employees. Here is a quick summary of the 2004 military pay package.

Pay raises are always a topic of interest to readers of This past year, “pay parity” has been a mantra of Congressional representatives and unions representing federal employees.

While pay parity sounds good, there are differences between the military and civilian pay systems that make pay parity difficult to achieve or to define in a meaningful way. Different missions and working conditions for military personnel heave led to different pay systems.

With this in mind, how did the military pay package come out in this year’s massive federal budget? Keep in mind that with military personnel being shipped to far-off countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, retrention rates are a major concern of military leaders and planners. These concerns are reflected in the 2004 pay package for military personnel.

Military pay raises will vary according to the category of military personnel. But, according to a recent article in the Pentagram, “Military personnel will see their basic pay more in line with that of civilian counterparts in the private sector….” (See the link on the left hand side to read the entire article.)

Col. Virginia S. Penrod, director of military compensation for DoD, says that the 2004 military pay and benefits plan includes a 3.7 percent pay increase. Pay increases for noncommissioned officers and warrant officers will vary. Some will range as high as 6.25 percent for senior-enlisted service members.

Part of the pay incentive is to try and retain senior noncommissioned officers. The highest pay raises, 6.25 percent, will go to E-9s with 26 years or more service.

As many readers know, military personnel also receive additional pay for living expenses. The 2004 pay package includes an average increase of about 8 percent for the military basic housing allowance.

COL Penrod indicated that the increase in the housing allowance is the result of a Defense Department effort to reduce and eventually eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for military personnel. The Pentagon hopes eliminate these expenses by fiscal 2005.

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