by James D. Agresti
The spending bill just passed by Congress—which President Trump says he will sign—grants an across-the-board pay raise of 1.9% to federal civilian employees. This will cost taxpayers about $3.7 billion in 2019 and $35 billion over the next 10 years.
"We’re going to be signing today and registering a National Emergency . . . We have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people—and it’s unacceptable."
Posted by The White House on Friday, February 15, 2019
According to data from the White House Office of Management & Budget, federal civilian non-postal employees were slated to earn about $196 billion in salaries and $85 billion in benefits during 2019. Hence, the 1.9% increase in their salaries will cost taxpayers about $3.7 billion in 2019.
The salary increase also establishes a new baseline going forward. Over 10 years—the standard timeframe for Congressional Budget Office analyses—a 1.9% raise will cost taxpayers roughly $35 billion. For a point of comparison, this is 25 times more than the $1.375 billion that the bill provides for new border barriers.
The $35 billion estimate assumes that the federal workforce doesn’t grow, and it discounts the value of their raise for inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose by 1.9% in 2018, so this increase merely keeps pace with inflation.
However, most federal employees are paid substantially more than their counterparts in the private sector. A 2017 Congressional Budget Office study found that federal civilian, non-postal employees receive an average of 17% more total compensation than comparable private sector workers.
At least five other recent studies that account for workers’ benefits, education, experience, and skills have found that federal employees enjoy a significant advantage in compensation over similar private-sector workers.
In 2017, federal, state and local governments spent $1.94 trillion on employee compensation. This amounts to an average of $15,388 from every household in the United States.
The spending bill passed the House of Representatives with 82% of Democrats voting for it and 66% of Republicans voting against it. It passed the Senate with 89% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans voting for it.
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