Federal Employees’ Pay Satisfaction on the Decline

The 2022 FEVS results indicate that federal employees are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their pay.

The 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results show that federal employees generally are not feeling as optimistic about their pay as they have in the previous few years. This is on top of last year when the 2021 FEVS results already showed a marked decline in pay satisfaction.

2022 FEVS Federal Employees’ Satisfaction With Pay

Pay satisfaction falls within the category called the Global Satisfaction Index in the FEVS survey results. Governmentwide satisfaction with pay was five percentage points lower this year than in the last five years, and this was after a six point drop in 2021.

Among the general areas measured in this index, pay had the largest downward shift from past years.

Overall Satisfaction (average of the below four categories)6465696462
Job Satisfaction6869726766
Pay Satisfaction6363676156
Organization Satisfaction6061666160
Recommend Organization6667716765

Pay satisfaction was higher among smaller agencies as noted by the pay satisfaction scores broken down by agency size:

Agency SizePay Satisfaction
Very Small64
Very Large55

The pay grades of 2022 FEVS respondents broke out as follows:

Pay GradeNumber Responded2022 Percentages
Federal Wage System15,7383%
GS 1-621,1234%
GS 7-12212,54341%
GS 13-15218,46342%
Senior Executive Service4,9041%
Senior Level (SL) or Scientific or Professional (ST)1,885<1%

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) attributed the decline in pay satisfaction to rapidly rising inflation that federal employees (and Americans as a whole) have had to deal with over the last couple of years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation over the last 12 months is 7.7%, although anyone who has been to the grocery store recently knows it is much higher in some areas, food being among those.

OPM also recently announced that 2023 premiums under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program are going up an average of 7.2% overall, and the employees’ share of the premiums is rising by an average of 8.7% next year.

On top of all of these rapidly rising costs, federal employees got a 2.7% average pay raise in 2022 and are most likely going to get a 4.6% pay raise in 2023 when the annual pay raise process is finalized later this month. Although the federal pay raise is not technically based on inflation, it has left many federal employees (and FedSmith readers) frustrated that they are not getting a higher pay raise next year.

All of this leads to a year in which federal employees said in the FEVS that they are less satisfied with their pay overall. Regarding these results, OPM stated:

The Global Satisfaction Index notably dropped in 2022, a finding that can be linked to the item regarding pay satisfaction. Again, results could reflect changes in the context when living costs rose without a corresponding increase in pay for most employees.

Agencies with the best overall global satisfaction were the Marine Mammal Commission (91%), National Endowment for the Humanities (83%), Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (83%), National Indian Gaming Commission (83%), National Science Foundation (81%), General Services Administration (78%) and Department of Health and Human Services (71%).

2022 FEVS Participation and Response Data

The 2022 FEVS had a total of 557,778 federal employees respond this year, a response rate of only 35%.

Agencies with the best response rates were the Inter-American Foundation (Very Small), U.S. International Trade Commission (Small), National Credit Union Administration (Medium), Department of Energy (Large), and Department of Health and Human Services (Very Large).

Most respondents were non-supervisors (65%) and had been with the government more than 20 years (25%). Only 4% of respondents said that they plan to quit and take a job with the private sector in the next year.

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.