Median federal salary increased 1.4 percent last year, despite pay freeze

The median federal salary increased by 1.4 percent during fiscal 2013 despite a hold on annual pay raises, with the rate rising roughly in line with inflation for the year.

The Office of Personnel Management released data last month showing that the median federal salary last year reached $73,736, meaning half the workforce brought home more money and half earned less. In fiscal 2012, the median federal salary was $72,714.


People cross a street in downtown Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17, one day after the deal to reopen the government. (Jewel Samad/AFP-Getty Images)

The increase occurred despite Congress halting the workforce’s annual pay raise in 2013. President Obama previously froze the increases in 2011 and 2012. Government employees still received additional pay through performance awards and promotions during those years.

During the three-year pay freeze, the median federal salary increased on average by about 2 percent annually, according to OPM data.

Obama issued an executive order in December to raise federal pay by 1 percent in 2014. Congress took no action to block the move, allowing the raise to take effect this year.

Below is a graph showing the median salary for federal workers since 2008 (in blue) compared to what the rates would have been if they rose exactly in line with inflation each year (in red).

The OPM report on federal salaries, released in April, provides a number of interesting comparisons, such as pay between departments, occupations, states, gender and ethnicity.

The highest-paid federal employees work for the Securities and Exchange Commission, with a median salary of $164,039 in 2013, according to the data. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. finished a distant second with a median salary of $130,108.

The Department of Veterans Affairs paid the least, with a median salary of $60,189.

Female federal workers earned a median income of $70,236, while males earned $75,689. An OPM study released last month said the federal workforce’s gender pay gap is shrinking and that women tend to be concentrated in lower-paying and lower-ranking jobs.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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