Pensions of retired federal and military personnel have increased 72.3 per cent on a flat percentage basis in the last 10 years since the pensions were tied to the rate of inflation. If compounding were taken into account, actual increases would be much greater.
During the same period, salaries of active-duty civil servants and military personnel increased on a flat percentage basis by 55.2 per cent. Again, the actual value of the increases is higher because of the compounding factor.
Some people received both raises. Retired military personnel in civil service jobs would have been eligible for and would have recieved raises that went to civilian government workers as well as adjustments due them as retirees.
Retired reserve officers and enlisted personnel can keep their military pensions and full civil service salaries. Retired regular officers have a portion of their military pensions cut when they take civilian federal jobs.
Unlike pensions, federal and military pay is not tied to the cost of living but to the ongoing rate in industry. The process sometimes is as political as it is statistical.
Government and military retirees generally have much lower incomes than those still working. But, on a straight percentage basis, they are better off than people in government, the military or in many sections of private industry who are still on the job.
The dramatic difference in the percentage increases between active and retired persons results from the high inflation rate of the past decade and a special financial sweetener added to retired pay by Congress in 1969 and dropped last year because of unexpectedly high costs.
From November, 1969, until 1976, retirees received an extra 1 per cent bonus over each regular cost-of-living increase. Eight raises were given during that period.
Congress added the 1 per cent bonus to make up for the time taken by the government between making effective a cost-of-living raise and getting it to retirees. Congress dropped 1 per cent "kicker" last year and substituted a plan that gives retirees two guaranteed cost-of-living raises, with a shorter time lag, each year.
Those raises are effective March 1 and Sept. 1 of each year. Last March, retirees received 4.8 per cent, and they are due a 4.3 per cent increase, effective Sept. 1 and payable the following month.
Here is a breakdown of percentage amounts of pay increases for retirees and active government and military personnel since 1967 when Congress tied the increases to the cost-of-living:
January, 1967, 3.9 per cent
May, 1968, 3.9 per cent
March, 1969, 3.9 per cent
November, 1969, 5 per cent
August, 1970, 5.6 per cent
June, 1971, 4.5 per cent
July, 1972, 4.8 per cent
July, 1973, 6.1 per cent
January, 1974, 5.5 per cent
July, 1974, 6.4 per cent
January, 1975, 7.4 per cent
August, 1975, 5.1 per cent
March, 1976, 5.4 per cent
March, 1977, 4.8 per cent
Active Duty Raises
October, 1967, 4.5 per cent
July, 1968, 4.9 per cent
July, 1969, 9.1 per cent
January, 1971, 6 per cent
January, 1972, 5.5 per cent
October, 1972, 5.1 per cent
October, 1973, 4.8 per cent
October, 1974, 5.5 per cent
October, 1975, 5 per cent
October, 1976, 4.8 per cent
Retirees will point out that one cannot eat percentages. But, in comparing linkage with inflation or linkage with industry pay levels, this is one time when inflation seems to be a better deal.
People: Werner Hasenberg of Commerce is the new president of the Society of Government Economists. Other SGC officers are William Honore, Interior; Donald H. Dalton Jr., Commerce; Doris Groff Velona, Transportation; Stuart Bendelow, Council of Governments; John Daly, Coast Guard; William Dinkelacker, Georgetown University; Maureen Glebes, Small Business Administration and Eileen M. Manfredi, Agriculture.
Barbara Kemp has been re-elected to a third term as head of Office of Education's big American Federation of Government Employees local. Mary E. Hicks is executive vice president. Other Loal 2607 officers are David Morris, Myron Becker and Ronald C. Tarlaian.
The OE local is considered one of the best government union operations in town with maximum membership participation and a very effective shop steward system.