Lawmakers Pushing Pay Parity for Federal Employees

A group of House lawmakers have asked President Trump to increase the 2018 federal employee pay raise to match the military’s pay raise.

A group of House lawmakers have asked President Trump to give federal employees a pay boost commensurate with the military.

They asked President Trump in a recent letter to revise his alternate pay plan to increase the annual pay raise from 1.9% (the overall average amount currently proposed) to 2.4% (the amount likely to be given to military).

“We support the biggest pay increase possible for our military members. We also want to note that with very few exceptions there has been parity with respect to pay raises for military and civilian federal employees,” the group of a dozen lawmakers said in their letter.

A copy of the letter is included below.

The Pay Raise Process

In recent years, Congress has deferred the decision of the pay raise for federal employees to the president. The latest actions on the annual pay raise process have been no different this year.

While Congress could still take action to enact a different raise, it is unlikely given the recent past precedent and the fact it is so late in the year.

As author Ralph Smith recently wrote:

Based on the experience of recent years, Congress has not indicated an interest in becoming involved in determining the next annual federal employee pay raise. So far, even though it is late in the year, it appears Congress will once again punt on the issue. In all likelihood, we will see an executive order issued in December affirming a 1.9% average 2018 pay raise for federal employees.

The Argument for Pay Parity

How well does the argument for pay parity with the military work? While it’s not something to completely take off the table, it also hasn’t been a slam dunk over the last decade.

Ralph Smith also looked at the recent track record for military and federal civilian employee pay raises (his article provides a listing of the raises for both groups over the last 10 years). He noted the following:

There are five years between 2007 and 2017 when the military received a higher pay raise than civilians. There have not been any years when federal civilians received a higher pay raise than the military.

Probably the biggest reason for this is that military personnel are often perceived as being in a more dangerous occupation than federal civilian employees. When military personnel are in war zones, as has been the case over the past 10 years, this is undoubtedly a persuasive rationale for a higher military raise.

But he concluded by saying, “What will happen in 2018 is, of course, anybody’s guess.” That is still certainly the case.

Will the pleas from the Congressmen work? It’s probably the best shot at a bigger raise this late in the year with Congress seemingly detached from the process, but nobody knows for sure what will happen. We will keep our readers informed as the pay raise for next year unfolds.

2017-12-01 Pay Parity Letter

About the Author

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.