President Biden today confirmed his intention to give Federal civilian employees a 5.2 percent pay raise next year – making it the largest annual pay raise for Feds in 43 years.

The average pay increase of 5.2 percent for civilian personnel would come in as the largest since 1980, when the Carter administration issued a 9.1 percent average pay increase.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., President Biden said the across-the-board base pay raise will be 4.7 percent and locality pay increases will average 0.5 percent, resulting in an overall average increase of 5.2 percent – consistent with his fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget.

“We must attract, recruit, and retain a skilled workforce with fair compensation in order to keep our government running, deliver services, and meet our nation’s challenges today and tomorrow,” President Biden wrote.

“This alternative pay plan decision will continue to allow the Federal government to employ a well?qualified Federal workforce on behalf of the American people, keeping pace with prior wage growth in the labor market,” he added.

The pay adjustment will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, or the first day of the first applicable pay period, President Biden said.

While significant, the 5.2 percent increase is slightly less than some might have hoped for, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who introduced an 8.7 percent pay raise earlier this year in the latest version of their Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act.

Nevertheless, Rep. Connolly applauded the president’s announcement today, calling it “great news.”

“While not quite what Senator Schatz and I called for in our FAIR Act, a 5.2 percent average pay raise is the highest since the Carter administration and will help us recruit and retain the Federal workforce of tomorrow,” Rep. Connolly said in a statement. “I applaud President Biden and his administration for recognizing and taking care of our nation’s greatest asset – our dedicated, patriotic Federal employees.”

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) also endorsed the president’s 5.2 percent pay increase today.

“Frontline Federal employees earn 24.09 percent less than people in similar private sector jobs, according to the Federal Salary Council, so Biden’s plan would help chip away at that deficit and make Federal employment more competitive,” the NTEU said in a statement.

This pay increase also seems likely for military personnel, as both the House and Senate versions of the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act include a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.