Democrats in both chambers of Congress on Thursday introduced legislation that would provide federal employees with an average 8.7% pay raise in 2024.
The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., in the House and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Senate, would increase federal workers’ basic pay by 4.7% across the board next year, and provide an average 4% increase in locality pay.
The introduction of the FAIR Act has been an annual endeavor in recent years; last year, the bill proposed a 5.1% pay increase, split between a 4.1% across-the-board basic pay raise and a 1% average increase in locality pay. Although the bill is rarely acted upon, it could serve as an important marker as lawmakers and the Biden administration debate spending levels for fiscal 2024 as House Republicans demand cuts to government spending.
Connolly described the measure as a way to restore “years of lost wage increases” over the last decade due to government shutdowns, hiring and pay freezes, and sequestration-related furloughs.
“For years now, federal employees have risked their health and safety working on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Connolly said. “They were subjected to the Trump administration’s cruel personal attacks, unsafe work environments, pay freezes, government shutdowns, sequestration cuts, furloughs and mindless across-the-board hiring freezes. Still, our federal workforce serves with dedication and distinction every day. Federal employees are our government’s single greatest asset, and they deserve better.”
The bill’s introduction drew swift support from unions and other federal employee groups.
“The 8.7% increase listed in the FAIR Act is not a pay raise,” said Randy Erwin, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “It is a minimum increase needed to offset the dwindling checking accounts of public servants, and it is critical to recruiting and retaining the best possible workforce.”
American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said that a sizeable pay increase is particularly important as the government tries to recruit new workers during a tight labor market.
“The latest report of the Federal Salary Council shows that federal worker pay lags behind the private sector by over 23%—making it difficult for agencies to recruit, hire and retain top talent and hurting the quality of services Americans receive,” he said. “The 8.7% pay increase included in the FAIR Act will not only reward federal employees’ hard work and help them keep pace with inflation, but it will also help government agencies remain competitive and deliver high-quality services to the American public.”
And William Shackelford, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, echoed that sentiment.
“The FAIR Act proposes a strong pay raise to counteract a tightening labor market and increasing private-sector pay, rising costs of living and an impending federal retirement wave,” he said. “A strong pay increase in 2023 is critical to the recruitment and retention of an effective federal workforce, and we’re thankful to have Congressman Connolly’s support for this effort.”