Even with a “freeze” in effect, federal pay rose faster than private-sector pay in fiscal 2011, according to the USA Today’s Dennis Cauchon. Crunching Bureau of Labor Statistic’s data, Cauchon found that average federal worker wages rose 1.3 percent in 2011, or slightly more than the 1.2 percent increase in average private wages. The federal increase—while modest—occurred despite the freeze Congress and the president put into effect because increases from “longevity, merit, and promotions” were not covered, according to Cauchon.
I’ve argued that federal pay and benefits are excessive and should be cut as one of many needed reforms to rein in federal deficits. Lawmakers should extend the wage freeze, but they should also reduce overly generous federal worker benefits. For example, lawmakers should repeal the defined-benefit pension plan received by federal workers because it comes on top of the 401(k)-style retirement plan that workers already receive.
The good news is that increases in federal pay have slowed from the torrid pace of the early George W. Bush years, as shown in this chart. But we will need more reforms to start reversing-out the large federal pay advantage that has been built up over the last two decades.