Military, federal civilians to see largest pay raise in years
December 31, 2019
January will usher in the biggest pay raise since 2010 for U.S. service members, and also bring a long-awaited salary increase for federal civilian employees.
Service members and Defense Department civilians are each slated to receive an average 3.1% bump in annual pay as part of the $737 billion military budget for 2020 — $22 billion more than last year’s defense measure.
Congress passed the record-setting defense bill in December with strong bipartisan support. It includes the creation of a Space Force, one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities for the Pentagon, and provisions aimed at improving military housing conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs will get a 9% boost in funding, its largest budgetary increase ever.
The 2020 raise is the largest for service members since a 3.4% annual pay hike in 2010. Since then, annual increases have ranged between 1% and 2.6%.
For federal civilian employees, the 3.1% average increase will constitute the largest raise since 2008, when they received a 3.5% average pay adjustment, statistics published by the Federal News Network stated. For much of the 2010s, federal employees received either no raise or a 1% annual hike.
The White House had originally planned to freeze federal pay in 2020 but reversed course in August and allowed a 2.6% across-the-board increase. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order putting into effect a measure that also includes locality pay averaging an extra 0.5%.
The civilian increases stateside should range from 2.85% to 3.52% with locality pay factored in, a Federal News Network analysis found. The highest average increases will come in the Washington D.C. metro area and around other large cities.
Prior to the passage of the bill, the American Federation of Government Employees had complained that its members were earning less in 2019 than at the start of the decade because salaries had failed to keep pace with inflation. It said government agencies were struggling to recruit employees due to noncompetitive salaries that lagged behind private sector pay.
More than 30% of federal workers are veterans, the Office of Personnel Management stated in 2017.