Federal Worker Pay Increase
Federal agencies are being directed to increase federal worker minimum wage to $15 per hour by January 30, 2022. This move is in alignment with the mass movement of minimum wage increases across the nation this year. According to The National Employment Law Project, 25 states and 56 municipalities will raise their minimum wage in 2022.
Shortly after coming into office, President Biden signed an executive order in which The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was to review federal wages and provide guidance for moving the federal worker minimum wage to $15 per hour. The OPM formed an interagency working group in 2021 to research and create these recommendations.
Kiran Ahuja, Director of the OPM, stated, “As the largest employer in the country, how the federal government treats its workforce has real impact. Raising pay rates across the federal government to a minimum of $15 per hour reflects our appreciation for the federal workforce and our values as a nation.”
The White House communicated some of the goals of this executive order and the increase are:
- Decrease in turnover, with the hope that workers getting this increase will feel appreciated and be more willing to commit long-term to a position.
- Higher productivity
- Decrease in absenteeism
- Supervisor cost reduction
- Increased and enhanced productivity
- Support economic security in families by:
- Helping reduce the amount of workers working FT and still in poverty
- Benefiting single parents who are the sole provider
- Reducing gender and racial income gaps for women and people of color
Impact of This Increase
- There are approximately 2.2 million federal employees. Around 67,000 workers will be impacted by this increase. (The majority of federal employees already make more than the increased minimum wage amount.)
- The Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Veteran Affairs have the largest amount of employees affected by the increase.
- The increase is expected to affect around 130 wildland firefighters, 3,800 custodial employees, 400 plant protection technicians, and 50,000 Department of Defense employees, many of whom work on military bases around the country.
- Housekeeping, custodial, and food service workers are the largest impacted groups in this number, with most being critical frontline workers throughout the pandemic.
Who Does Not Apply?
- The Postal Regulatory Commission and the US Postal Service are outside of the OCM’s authority, so the increase is not required for their employees.
- Federal employees who have extended hours and extended work schedules are not affected by the increase as of now, but the OCM stated their intention to address wages for this group later in 2022.
- The executive order also mandates that the minimum wage be indexed to inflation measure each year so it will adjust to reflect the cost of living.
- Federal employees with disabilities are also guaranteed the $15 minimum wage.
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