Trump Endorses 2.6% Across the Board Pay Raise for Federal Workers

In a surprise move Friday, the president abandoned his quest for a pay freeze in 2020, although there will be no locality pay adjustment under his plan.

President Trump on Friday issued his alternative pay plan for 2020, endorsing a 2.6% across the board pay increase for civilian federal employees, effectively ending the administration’s push for a pay freeze next year.

Each year, the president is required to submit an alternative pay plan to Congress by the end of August, or else significant automatic pay increases will take effect under the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act. Had Trump not issued an alternative pay plan, locality pay would rise by 24.01% next year, and base pay would increase 2.6%.

Although since the introduction of Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request, the White House has pushed for a pay freeze next year, Trump reversed course Friday, calling for a 2.6% increase in base pay, but no increases to locality pay.

“Specifically, I have determined that for 2020—while across-the-board base pay will increase by 2.6%, as prescribed by [FEPCA]—the locality pay percentages . . . will remain at their 2019 levels,” Trump wrote. “This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.”

The pay increase proposal essentially defuses most debate over a pay raise in Congress. Although the Senate has not unveiled any of its spending bills, the House has passed funding legislation that would have provided an average 3.1% pay increase for federal workers—a 2.6% across the board raise coupled with an average 0.5% increase in locality pay.

Despite the reversal on a pay freeze, Trump said his administration would continue to pursue working toward a performance-based pay system.

“As noted in my budget for fiscal year 2020, our pay system must reform to align with mission-critical recruitment and retention goals, and to reward employees whose performance provides value for the American people,” Trump wrote. “My administration will continue to support reforms that advance these aims.”