The now extended pay rate freeze first imposed by President Obama in 2010 did not stop the average salary of federal employees from increasing by almost $1,800 over the last two years, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
The OPM's latest Common Characteristics of the Government report show that as of September 2012, the average annual salary of a full-time, permanent federal employee was $78,467, compared to $76,701 in December 2010.
In addition, the median salary - the salary at which half are higher and half are lower - increased by over $5,100, from $69,550 in 2010, to $74,714 now.
While federal employees have not gotten a regular annual across-the-board raise since January 2010, many remained eligible for and received performance-based promotions or automatic, periodic "step" increases since then.
Calling the government's spending priorities "out of whack," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) objected to a federal pay system that allows salaries to increase so significantly during a pay freeze. In the Washington Post, he was quoted as saying, "These increases are driven by automatic, tenure-based pay hikes that are in no way tied to merit or performance."
Noting in a February 15 press release that despite the "so-called" pay freeze, federal employees continue to make an average of 16% more than their private sector counterparts, Rep. Issa added, "Nearly half-a-million federal employees make more than 100,000 per year."
Also See: Government Job Finder
According the OPM report, the total number of full-time permanent federal workforce actually grew by 24,861 employees, from 1,831,719 to 1,856,580 during the first full year of the pay freeze from FY2010 to FY2011. However, the total fell by 6,269 employees between FY2011 and FY2012, perhaps more accurately reflecting the effect of the extended pay freeze.
But it's not all good for federal employees, as up to one million of them still face the possibility of having to take as many as 14 unpaid days off due sequestration-driven furloughs. In addition, most civilian federal employees newly hired this year will be required to contribute an additional 2.3% of their salary toward their retirement benefits.
Also See: Federal Employee Benefits
President Obama's presidential budget proposal released on April 10, calls for a 1.0% raise starting in January 2014. However, Obama's proposal would also require federal employees to contribute an additional 0.4% of their salary toward their retirement during each of the next three years.