President Obama signed an executive order Monday authorizing a 1 percent pay raise for federal employees, ending a four-year freeze in salary rates.
The increase, which was in the works for months, will take effect in January. It does not apply to members of Congress but will go to 2.1 million federal workers, from rank-and-file civil servants to high-level career employees and top political appointees.
Salary rates have not been increased since January 2010. Some employees have had their pay frozen during this period, while most have received raises through promotions, for performance or advancing up the steps of their pay grades.
The freeze reflected the debate in Congress and the rest of the country over government spending, but at the cost of what federal workers said was undue hardship. Many also lost up to a week of pay this year under the budget cuts known as sequestration.
“This long-overdue modest pay raise for federal government employees is a good step in recognizing the value of federal workers,” Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.
“They have been the targets of unending attacks,” she said of the workforce. “They’ve been furloughed, laid off and locked out through no fault of their own.”
Obama proposed a 1 percent raise for January in the budget plan he released in the spring. Over the following months, Congress drafted spending bills that either did not address the issue or said that if a raise were approved, federal agencies would have to absorb the cost from other spending cuts.
In late August, the president announced his intent to set the raise by default, as is allowed by federal pay law, if Congress did not enact, change or deny it before the end of the calendar year.
It survived the temporary budget that ended the partial government shutdown in October and the two-year spending deal Congress passed this month.
Federal employees will see bigger paychecks in the first full pay period of January, depending on the pay cycles of their agencies.