Future pay raises for white collar U.S. workers could be drastically reduced if the Carter administration proceeds with a plan to link U.S. pay rates to similar jobs in state governments.
A new government survey shows that D.C. Government employes -- the only group of "local" workers in the nation tied to the federal pay scale -- make significantly more than their counterparts in almost every state, for almost every job studied.
In most cases, according to the Civil Service Commission study, pay for D. C. government workers was at or near the top of the list in most occupations. Often D.C. salaries are $2,000 to $4,000 more than for counterpart jobs in the big California and New York state governments, and frequently are double or triple the amount paid state workers in rural and southern states.
The study by the commission (now the Office of Personnel Management) included 31 occupational groups in every state and Puerto Rico. They include jobs ranging from accounting and purchasing to engineering, health services, general management and personnel work.
The D.C. government, with its linkage to the federal pay scale, was the best-paying employer in 11 of the jobs; second best in 25 other jobs and third in 11 other occupations.
State salaries are not now included in the annual wage comparison the government makes of its white collar jobs vs. those in selected industry. Many question the fairness of excluding the pay of 10 million state and local government workers -- the largest bloc of employes in the nation -- from the pay fixing-surveys. Federal unions oppose it on grounds that state governments traditionally pay low salaries.
Federal workers also argue that they are short-changed even under the industry vs. government comparison made by government employes. For instance the October 1978 "catch-up with industry" raise was supposed to be in excess of 8 percent.But President Carter limited the federal white collar increase to 5.5 percent, and Congress slapped a similar "cap" on pay raises for blue collar government employes.
Data from the state pay survey is particularly significant now. Many Cater aides want to make significant changes in the pay structure. One will be to ask Congress to take the halfmillion administrative, technical and clerical federal workers off the nationwide pay scale. Instead, they would have salaries linked to the going rate in local industry. The plan to include state government wages in such surveys, if approved, would have the effect of further lowering the recommended amount of future annual "catch-up" raises for federal civil servant.
D.C. pay -- thanks to linkage with the federal scale -- ranked in the top five "states" in almost every job surveyed. Alaska, which has an abnormally high wage scale, was the only state to consistently knock D.C. out of the top stop.
The figures will be subject of argument for months to come. But one thing is sure. They will supply powerful ammunition -- with the public and Congress -- that should help Carter with any downward pat "reforms" he wants to make.