The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

April 10, 2013

Average federal salary increases despite pay freeze

WASHINGTON — The "average" federal employee salary stands at nearly $78,500, an amount that has risen by about $1,800 in the past two years despite a general freeze on salary rates, according to data released Monday.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported that as of September, the average salary for a full-time, permanent, non-seasonal position was $78,467. The comparable figure for December 2010 was $76,701. The median salary — the point at which half are above and half are below — is $74,714, up from $69,550 in 2010.

Federal employees did not receive the traditional across-the-board January raises in 2011, 2012 or 2013. The Obama administration has said that its budget proposal set for release Wednesday will seek a 1 percent raise in January 2014.

While many federal employees have received no increases since January 2010, individual raises still can be paid to employees, if eligible, upon promotion, for performance, or upon completing waiting periods used in grade- and step-type pay systems.

Hundreds of thousands of employees, meanwhile, face the partial loss of salary because of sequestration-triggered unpaid furlough days. Some will face up to 14 days.

Also, starting this year, new employees generally must pay an additional 2.3 percent of salary toward their retirement benefits, and proposals are pending in Congress to raise the required contribution by all employees by as much as 5.5 percent of salary.

Employees covered by Social Security also had that portion of their payroll tax increased this year along with other workers when a two-year decrease of two percentage points expired.

"Our spending priorities are completely out of whack when many employees are being furloughed while at the same time salaries have been increasing during a so-called pay freeze," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in an e-mailed statement. "These increases are driven by automatic, tenure-based pay hikes that are in no way tied to merit or performance."

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