Legislation Calls for a 5.1% Federal Pay Raise in 2023

Under recent legislation introduced by Congress, federal employees would get an average 5.1% annual pay raise in 2023, if enacted. 

Introduced by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act (H.R. 6398) would set the 2023 average federal pay raise at 5.1% through a 4.1% all-around increase, in addition to a 1% average increase to locality pay. 

Last week, Connolly released an official statement on the bill, exploring and explaining the reasoning and rationale for the 5.1% figure: 

Over the past decade, federal employees have endured government shutdowns, pay freezes, hiring freezes, and lost pay as a result of sequestration-related furloughs. More recently, they’ve spent two years working tirelessly throughout a global pandemic in service to the American people. The FAIR Act’s wage adjustment restores years of lost wage increases for federal employees by ensuring that federal employees serving in all 50 States on behalf of constituents in every congressional district earn an average pay increase of 5.1% percent. 

Since 2021 inflation reached 7%, it is understandable why a large number of federal employees want to see the 5.1% raise reach a higher percentage that is more reflective of inflation. Many things regarding the current record-setting inflation remain unclear for 2022, and also whether or not Congress and the president would factor this year into a 2023 pay raise for federal employees. It is important to remember that the annual pay raise for federal employees is not based on inflation per se, but instead it is based mostly on salary levels in specific locality pay areas. Unfortunately, inflation increased so rapidly last year that it effectively wiped out the 2022 federal pay raise. 

The FAIR Act has become an annual tradition for the two lawmakers (Connolly and Schatz) as it is introduced each year during the winter time to give federal employees a pay raise in the following year that is typically larger than they otherwise would receive. While observing the previous years, their annual legislation proposal usually does not come to pass. 

Considering last year as an example, Schatz and Connolly’s bill called for a 3.2% pay raise in 2022. However, the final pay raise for 2022 ended up being 2.7%. Additionally, for 2021, the FAIR Act proposed a 3.5% federal pay raise. The final number ended up being 1%. 

Still, the Congressmen continue to put forth compelling arguments in defense of the federal workforce. “For two years, federal employees have risked their health and safety working on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Chairman Connolly. “For four years prior, 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 FAIR Act is critical step toward recognizing their contributions and providing fair and just compensation.” 

With the impending raise for next year still in uncertain territory, the introduction of the FAIR Act at the very minimum has set the bar of discussion for determining the pay raise for federal employees for 2023. 

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