2022 Federal Pay Raise: Waiting for the Next Shoe to Drop

When are federal employees likely to learn more about the possibility of a 2022 pay raise? Soon, very soon.

When might federal employees get an update on the 2022 federal pay raise? It is likely to be next week.

The next step in the process towards determining next year’s raise for federal employees is likely to come with the release of the 2022 White House budget proposal.

The White House put out a teaser of sorts in April as a prelude to the full budget proposal.

“Later this spring, the Administration will release the President’s Budget, which will present a unified, comprehensive plan to address the overlapping challenges we face in a fiscally and economically responsible way,” according to an April 9 press release from the Office of Management and Budget.

Summer officially starts on June 20, so the days are growing short to have that promise come to fruition.

However, Roll Call recently reported that the White House plans to release its full 2022 budget blueprint on May 27. Presumably, the budget proposal will include the president’s proposed 2022 pay raise for federal employees.

Update: The White House budget proposal was released on May 28 and included a proposed 2.7% pay raise for federal employees.

The Pay Raise Process

Assuming President Biden suggests a 2022 pay raise figure in the upcoming budget proposal, this will be the next step in determining a raise for federal employees next year which will then play out over the remainder of the year. Congress could ultimately override whatever the White House proposes under the law.

Bills have already been introduced in Congress proposing that the 2022 federal employee pay raise be 3.2%. The latest one came in March from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

There are years in which Congress will pass legislation that contains an annual federal pay increase. There are also years in which Congress does not pass legislation addressing a pay raise. If and when Congress passes legislation stipulating a pay raise for the federal workforce, it is usually done through a general appropriations bill.

When federal appropriations bills do not address a pay raise, federal pay adjustments are governed by the Federal Employees’ Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) but that legislation is not necessarily the final say either.

This is because the president can, and usually does, propose an alternative pay raise that ignores the FEPCA formula. If the president determines that “because of national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,” a pay adjustment would be inappropriate based on FEPCA, he can propose a different figure. This normally happens if Congress has not taken its own actions.

In other words, whatever the president proposes for a raise is an important initial step, and Congress could later influence the figure through legislation during the year.

For more details on how annual federal employee pay raises are determined, see How is the Annual Federal Employee Pay Raise Determined? What You Need to Know.

Pay Raises in the Last Decade

Since 2011, the annual federal employee pay raise has averaged 1.24%. The largest was 3.1% in 2020, and the smallest was no raise (0%) in 2011, 2012, and 2013 which began with a proposed pay freeze.

For a historical look at pay raises in the last 50 years, be sure to check out: 50 Years of Federal Pay: Democrats v. Republicans

YearPay Raise

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. 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.