Proposed Pay Increase for Federal Workers in 2013

The White House intends to propose a 0.5% pay increase for civilian federal employees in 2013.

Updated 1/6/2012 1:50 PM CST

The Washington Post is reporting that the White House intends to propose a 0.5% pay increase for civilian federal employees as part of its 2013 budget proposal.

The increase would be the first pay raise federal workers have seen since the two year pay freeze was announced in late 2010.

For an employee making $75,000 per year, a 0.5% pay increase would amount to around $375, or $7 a week.

“A permanent pay freeze is not an acceptable policy,” said one administration official. “While modest, a 0.5% increase reflects the belt-tightening we must do in these difficult times.”

When the freeze was first proposed by the President, he said it was going to be the first cut of many. “The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice. And that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government.”

The proposed increase would require congressional approval in order to take effect, and such a proposal could face difficulty getting through Congress since Republicans in the House have proposed extending the current pay freeze through 2013.

Federal employee union leaders were generally unimpressed with the pay increase announcement.

NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a statement, “The good news is that the pay freeze is ending, but I am disappointed at the size of the proposed 2013 increase.”

AFGE issued a scathing statement, saying, “After freezing federal employee’s salaries for two years, the Obama administration is proposing a minuscule half-percentage point increase in their wages next year… The fact is, this increase is well below the rate of inflation of 3.6%, and will be wiped out by higher costs for health care, groceries and other essential needs,” but went on to add, “We’re hopeful that this is a positive step that spells an end to the barrage of attacks on pay and benefits for working people and serves as an acknowledgment that attacking the jobs we have won’t create the new jobs we need.”

William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, called the proposal “a breath of fresh air for all those who serve their country every day.”

The pay increase is well below the 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment that went into effect this week for Social Security recipients and most federal retirees to keep pace with inflation. It is also below the 1.6% pay raise the military got in 2012.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.