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Federal workers can't bank on large raise next year

The Senate Appropriations Committee this week released report language for their proposed 2011 financial service/general government budget bill, and it again included support for a mere 1.4 percent pay raise for federal workers in 2011. Their House counterparts have not yet weighed in on the matter, but the 1.4 percent figure matches the White House's proposal from earlier this year.

Federal workers unions have lobbied in past years to have their annual pay raise match servicemembers' promised increase, and House members in May approved a 1.9 percent raise for troops in 2011. But while Congress often unofficially links both raises, members have resisted any formal legislation tying the two together.

Regardless, the point may be moot. The Senate Armed Services Committee has publicly backed only a 1.4 percent raise for troops next year, setting up a conference committee fight over just how large the military pay boost should be. If troops don't get a 1.9 percent raise, federal workers will have no shot at receiving a higher level.

An in an election year, higher pay for federal workers may be a political minefield.Earlier this year a USA Today study found that federal workers earned an average salary nearly 11 percent higher than comparable private sector jobs.

The 1.4 percent federal employee raise would be an average across the workforce, with locality adjustments for some areas possible. Both the House and Senate are expected to resume debate on the budget bills next month.

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