Why Are Current Federal Employees Not Getting the Same Raise as Federal Retirees?

Federal retirees will get a higher pay raise next year than what is proposed for current federal employees. I feel this is unfair; why is this the case?

Q: Why do current federal employees not get the same raise as retired federal employees? I think this is unfair.

A: Current federal employees do not receive a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), only the pay raise. The COLA is for federal retirees and Social Security recipients.

Each one is calculated differently. The COLA is automatic, whereas the pay raise is determined through a political process. In some years the COLA is higher; in others the pay raise is higher.

This year, it appears that the COLA is going to be slightly higher than the final pay raise proposed for current federal employees. Federal retirees are getting a 2% COLA in 2018, and the President has proposed an overall average 1.9% raise for current federal workers. As of this writing, that figure is still moving forward and looking more likely to become the final figure.

Some lawmakers think the pay raise is unfair as well, but with a different basis for comparison. They want to see current federal employees get a higher raise to match what is proposed for the military. A 2.4% raise has been proposed for the military versus the average 1.9% raise for current federal employees.

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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