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Biden Is Reportedly Planning to Propose the Highest Pay Raise for Feds in 20 Years, at 4.6%

The proposal for a 2023 pay boost would be part of the president's budget request, which could be released next month.

President Biden reportedly plans to propose an average pay increase of 4.6% for federal civilian employees in 2023 when he releases his budget request.

According to Federal News Network, the Office of Management and Budget wrote in annual “pass back” documents ahead of the finalization of Biden’s budget request to plan for a 4.6% raise. Although OMB did not specify how that figure would be split between an across-the-board basic pay increase and the average increase in locality pay, presidents traditionally have set aside 0.5% for locality pay raises.

If the administration formally proposes a 4.6% raise, it would mark the biggest pay raise federal workers have seen since the George W. Bush administration granted the workforce the same increase in 2002 and would come as the country is undergoing a period of heightened inflation. In 2022, federal workers received a 2.7% raise—a 2.2% across-the-board increase and a 0.5% average increase in locality pay.

The 4.6% still would not be the most generous raise on the table for feds next year. Last month, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced legislation that would provide federal workers with a 5.1% average pay increase next year, to be split between a 4.1% across the board raise and a 1% average increase in locality pay. This is the second year that Connolly and Schatz’s annual bill included double the normal locality pay bump, after federal employees received a 1% across-the-board pay raise in 2021 with no increase in locality pay.

Although Biden’s reported pay raise plans have not yet been finalized, Washington, D.C.-area lawmakers have already begun praising the president for the decision.

“I am pleased that President Biden will include a 4.6% pay raise for federal employees and military service members in his upcoming budget, honoring the principle of pay parity that I have long advocated for in the U.S. Congress,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “This raise would be the workforce’s largest increase in 20 years, and well deserved for our both hardworking civil servants and military personnel who play an essential role in our country and our democracy.”

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who has also endorsed Connolly and Schatz’s pay raise plan, said a 4.6% pay raise would be a boon for his district, where a large contingent of federal employees live.

“This would be the biggest pay raise the federal workforce has seen in 20 years, boosting morale and helping make the federal government a more attractive employer to the talent we want to attract to the civil service,” he said. “Feds absolutely deserve a raise, and I will work diligently with my colleagues to help advance this proposal over the coming year.”

Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget is expected to be released some time after the president’s State of the Union speech March 1.