Federal Employee Salary Freeze? Here is What Readers Think About It

Should federal employees have their pay frozen in 2011? A number of readers think it is a good idea—as long as it does not apply to them personally. A large majority are opposed to any salary freeze.

Do you think a freeze on the salaries of federal employees is justified?

With numerous articles being published in papers and on the Internet, the "talking heads" discussing this topic on television, and proposals in Congress to freeze federal salaries, the question of freezing federal salaries has become an election year issue.

Here is how readers responded to this question:

yes: 20.7%

no: 74.8%

undecided: 4.5%

Some readers thought that a freeze on salaries was justified but thought it should apply to readers who made more money than the person making the comment. For example, one reader said it should only apply to GS-12 employees and above because they already make a considerable salary. Another said it should only apply to GS-11 employees and higher. Another reader said the freeze should only apply to those making more than $100,000 a year.

A majority obviously though that a freeze was not justified and a number of readers stated they are already underpaid.

On the other hand, quite a few readers commented that they felt fortunate to have a good paying job and would not mind a freeze on their salary for a year.

On the question of "Do you think the proposal to freeze federal salary levels in 2011 will pass in Congress?", most readers do not think it will happen but there is an unusually large number of "undecided" readers on this question. Here are the results:

yes: 21%

no: 57%

undecided: 22%

Here is a small sample of the more than 1000 comments we received.

  • We are a work force just like everyone else; we are not solely responsible for the building of the debt nor should we for paying back. This act should be across the board federal and private. And we know it can not be inacted for private industry; so why pass to us.
  • I believe the SES and higher officials should be taking the hit, not the average federal employee on the GS scale.
  • On GS-12 & up, only
  • As long as Washington DC upper management are not excluded from a freeze (or bonuses)
  • Only to those who make 6 figures per year.
  • Only GS 13-15 pay, and all SES pay and bonus
  • A pay freeze for higher grades, (ie> GS11 and above) and a lump sum raise for the GS10 and below that doesn’t get added to their base salary going forward. As always those with more can be expected to carry more of the load. I won’t like it but if that is what is needed than so be it.
  • Most federal salaries are extremely high now compared to other like positions in the private sector.
  • We certainly could do this for one year!! We will all have to give up something to fix this mess!
  • I am willing to forego any salary increase if it will help reduce the federal deficit. I much prefer this step rather than cutting our retirement benefits, which is not terribly good.
  • As a retired federal manager, I saw first hand the justification to freeze raises. Also, many private sector (and other government employees) have worked with salaries frozen for a number of years.
  • What about the GS-5/7/9 employees? They are not making any money as it is. It would not be right to freeze these people during this economic downturn.
  • If you are talking about high level officials, i.e. GS-10-15 yes. No, for lower level federal employees GS-1-9
  • As a retiree of the Federal Gov’t, I wen thru several freezes during my employment. Also, my retirement was frozen via "COLA". We all are tightening our belts, so should the Fed employees.
  • Lets put a freeze on Congress. Some of us federal employees make less than $50,000.00 a year.
  • Federal employees already receive higher than average pay. They should share hard times with rest of nation of high unemployment during these hard times.
  • Is Congress getting a freeze on their salaries? Just like them, we work hard. Work is more demanding and although we are paid well, we don’t get paid as well as the civilian sector.
  • Not on ALL federal employees—some don’t make enough to live on now
  • Just for 1 year would be OK for me. I do think USA should limit some of the money we give to foreign countries and clean up from Katrina and the oil slick. We have more Americans entering the rolls of umemployed and our Food Banks could use more charity.
  • There are other things that we as gov’t employees give up for te "benefits" of working for the government. The private sector is paid about $20,000 more a year than I doing similar work, but I have the stability and the pension.
  • It appears the federal budget always get balanced on the backs of federal workers. When the economy is doing great there are no talk about increasing federal pay.
  • We have worked very hard to be successful at our jobs and contribute to the safety of this country and believe our salaries are worth every penny.
  • My health care premiums are going up!
  • This is a ‘freeze’, not a decrease in pay or loss of jobs. We all need to suck it up and be part of a solution not a continuation of the problem.
  • Irregardless of the recent (articles) about how federal employees are over paid, it is not true for the employees that actually do the work. The administrators are over paid and skewing the data.

Our thanks for the thousands of readers who took the time to participate in this survey and our special thanks to those who took the time to send in their written comments.

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