What pay freeze? 1.1 million federal workers still getting $2.5 billion in pay increases 

Remember that two-year federal pay freeze Obama proposed last week? Steve Losey at Federal Times has crunched the numbers, and it doesn't look like federal workers are are going to be huring much. In fact, out of a workforce of about two million federal workers, the majority are still going to get raises in the next two years:

President Obama spoke of the need for sacrifice last week when he announced a two-year pay freeze for federal employees.

But feds won't be too terribly deprived in 2011 and 2012. Despite the freeze, some 1.1 million employees will receive more than $2.5 billion in raises during that period.

Congress is expected to approve Obama's proposal, which cancels only cost-of-living adjustments for two years. Regularly scheduled step increases for the 1.4 million General Schedule employees — who make up two-thirds of the civilian work force — will continue. The size of those increases ranges from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent and by law kick in every one, two or three years, depending on an employee's time in grade.

And it's not just step increases that continue to enrich federal workers at a time of sky-high unemployment in the private sector -- expect to see a lot of bonuses and promotions:

And many employees will receive promotions, which also come with salary increases, Jeffrey Zients, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, said last week.

Many senior employees won't get raises, but will receive bonuses for good performance, although OMB and the Office of Personnel Management are telling agencies to cap bonuses at 2010 levels. OPM said it does not yet have information on fiscal 2010 bonuses, but the Asbury Park Press of New Jersey reported in June that the government paid $408 million in bonuses to 359,400 people, an average $1,135 each, in fiscal 2009.

A few other points of note about Obama's pay increase. According to Losey, some 423,300 employees at the step 1 or step 2 level would get raises both years. Additionally, some of the government's highest paid GS employees -- those in the GS 15 level -- would get base pay increases of at least $3,321.

Finally, it's worth pointiong out that technically federal managers can deny step increases for poor performing federal workers. Yet, this almost never happens and there's no reason to anticipate it will start happening with any regularity now.

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Mark Hemingway

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