Trump Announces Freeze on Planned Pay Raises and Locality Pay Adjustments

Late last week, President Donald Trump sent a letter signaling his intention to cancel previously-planned pay raises of roughly 1.9% for most federal employees, as well as scheduled locality pay adjustments proposed by the Federal Salary Council.

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders, Trump wrote that his “alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce.”

The decision does not affect members of the military, who will still receive their 2.6 percent pay raise.

Nicole Ogrysko of Federal News Radio notes, under the typical formula used, “most federal employees would have received an average of a 2.1 percent raise in 2019, plus additional locality pay increases, which average 25.7 percent,” with the U.S. Senate having recently agreed to a 1.9 percent raise for 2019.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association reminded its members “that President can only propose reductions in wages, benefits, and annuities. Unless there is a national crisis or financial emergency, Congress sets and appropriates federal pay and benefits.”

The organization, which has traditionally been supportive of the administration, also sent a strongly-worded letter to Trump, suggesting that continued attacks on federal law enforcement livelihoods would make it increasingly difficult for the organization and its members to support the president.

Other organizations were similarly frustrated by the announcement.

“In no case does zeroing out these adjustments make the federal government more attractive as an employer, particularly when attempting to attract the highest-educated candidates who, according to CBO, already make less, on average, than their counterparts in the private sector,” said Bill Valdez, President of the Senior Executives Association, said of the proposed pay freeze. “In short, this policy is a 180-degree turn away from the president’s stated goal of ‘recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets.’”

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