The process for determining the amount of a pay raise for federal employees is usually finalized in December, with the next raise becoming effective in January. 2020 has been an unorthodox year, and the raise and effective date set for 2021 are different as well.
Typically, an alternative pay plan is proposed in August. This year however, President Trump announced his alternative plan for 2021 to Congress on February 10th.
Trump’s plan calls for a 1% across-the-board pay raise for civilian federal employees next year, with no additional locality pay adjustments. Federal employee advocates in Congress have called for a 3% raise next year, a rate that’s in line with what military members are expected to receive in 2021. As of now there is no evidence that supports this proposed raise.
After the election, Congress will have to decide whether to pass an annual budget for the federal government that will last for rest of the fiscal year or to pass another temporary budget bill, leaving the longer-term financial decision up to the next Congress. Regardless, the current federal budget is set to expire on September 30th, 2020.
With all things considered, the likeliest outcome is a 1% pay raise for the federal workforce just as President Trump had proposed earlier this year. It is possible however, that a federal pay raise occurs retroactively, like what happened with the 1.9% 2019 pay raise.
With such a tumultuous year that 2020 has been, and having a politically polarized election on the horizon, it is hard to confidently predict what the final pay raise outcome will be.