President Proposes 1.9% Average 2018 Federal Employee Raise

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By on August 31, 2017 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

Silver numbers 2018 on a pile of golden coins isolated on a white background

The presumed federal employee raise in 2018 has been 1.9%. The deadline for the White House to propose a  pay rate increase was August 31 and that was done on the last day. The presumption of an average raise of 1.9% is still intact. The letter from the president is typically issued just a few days before August 31st.

This year is no exception.

President Trump has now issued the letter that verified his intent to move forward with an average raise in 2018 of 1.9%. In this letter, President Trump wrote:

I have determined that for 2018, across-the-board pay increases will be 1.4 percent and locality pay increases will average 0.5 percent, resulting in an overall average increase of 1.9 percent for civilian Federal employees.  I will specify locality pay percentages for each locality pay area by Executive Order before the first pay period in January 2018. These decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce.

For those who pay close attention to this issue, you may recall that the average pay raise for 2018 amounts to 1.9%, as previously announced, and not 1.4%. The difference is locality pay. An additional amount of 0.5% was allocated to locality pay for 2018. The actual percentage of the 2018 raise will vary between different locality pay areas. The actual amount of the raise in locality pay areas may not be disclosed until December.

Military personnel are expected to receive a raise of 2.1%. The President’s letter on this topic was also issued today (August 31st).

Federal employee unions and some Congressmen in districts around the Washington metropolitan area were seeking a much higher raise. Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) had introduced legislation to give a 3.2% raise in 2018 but the legislation never left the House committee considering it.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) issued the following press release:

The administration’s alternative pay plan for federal employees for 2018, which calls for a 1.4 percent across-the-board increase with an additional 0.5 percent average adjustment for locality pay, shortchanges federal workers.

NTEU believes this figure is too low especially in light of the fact that federal law calls for a 1.9 percent across-the-board raise and private sector wages are growing at an even faster rate,” said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). “Add to that, current proposals attacking the federal retirement system would result in a pay cut for federal workers.

The presidential announcement was anticipated and consistent with the president’s 2018 budget proposal and previous comments from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  The president can choose to differ from this formula, and Congress can ultimately propose and pass any alternative numbers in its budget.

Role of President and Congress on Pay Raise

In some years, appropriations bills in Congress have precluded the president from granting federal workers a pay increase and effectively freezing federal employee salaries. In recent years, Congress has left the decision on a pay raise up to the president. Congress can propose and pass another amount in the budget process if it chooses to do so.. There is no indication so far in 2018 that Congress will pass legislation on the pay raise.

Federal Pay Raise 2018

© 2017 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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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

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