December 21, 2006


Bush issues order for 2.2 percent pay raise

By Karen Rutzick

President Bush issued an executive order Thursday morning officially granting white-collar federal employees a 2.2 percent pay raise in 2007.

Federal employees can expect the increase to be factored into their first paycheck of the new year, with the overall raise split between a 1.7 percent across-the-board raise and a 0.5 percent adjustment that will vary by locality.

For 2007, federal officials have changed the formula under which locality differentials are distributed, awarding more money to cities with larger pay gaps between the private and public sectors. Employees in the Washington area will receive a 2.64 percent raise. Those in New York will get 3.03 percent; in Boston, 2.53 percent; and in San Diego, 2.68 percent. In areas outside of major cities, employees will receive a 1.81 percent total raise.

The 2007 pay tables, including the locality pay differentials, can be found here.

Congress has not officially passed a civilian pay raise for 2007, so Bush's executive order could be supplanted by a move from lawmakers, prompting a retroactive additional pay hike. But since lawmakers already passed a 2.2 percent raise for the military, it is unlikely that civilians will see the 2.7 percent raise their unions and professional groups advocated.

Soon-to-be House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., released a statement Thursday blaming the Republican Congress for letting the 2.2 percent raise slip through.

"The failure of the 109th Congress to pass all but two spending bills for fiscal year 2007 has given the administration the opportunity to mandate the lowest annual raise in almost 20 years," Hoyer said.

Still, even if Congress had finished its spending bills, it is not clear that a 2.7 percent raise would have been passed for civilians.

"We recognize that if the military is at 2.2 percent, it will be very, very difficult to have anything else enacted," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. "We're going to do everything we can once the new Congress convenes."

This was also the first year that the president proposed an equal raise -- 2.2 percent -- for both the military and civilians. Federal employee groups and members of Congress have long advocated for pay parity between the two.

Locality-based raises became a fixture of federal pay in 1994, following implementation of the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act. The act's proponents identified a gap between public and private sector salaries of about 30 percent. The act was designed to close the gap to about 5 percent, but raises under the law have never been fully funded.