More than 180,000 Washington area workers will begin drawing half pay, some as early as Friday, unless Congress breaks its budget deadlock very soon. The employes are among 1.1 million civil servants and millions of military personnel whose paydays are apporaching, but finds to pay them more than 50 cents on the dollar are not available.
This is the situation:
Defense (with 600,000 civillian workers) and the Agriculture Department are supposed to pay wages Friday. Because of the Senate-House budget blockage, neither department can authorize full paychecks for employes. Most can only be compensated for work performed up to the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1. Defense has 78,000 Washington-area workers and Agriculture, about 13,000.
Paychecks are due Monday for employes of the Labor Department (8,ooo workers here) and the Department of Transportation (10,551 area employes). Unless their budgets clear Congress, or continued spending authority is approved by Saturday, they will get only 50 percent of the paychecks due them.
HEW, with 39,000 employees here, has a pay day Tuesday, as does the Veterans Administration with 6,700 local workers. Interior pays employes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (depending on their agency).
Housing and Urban Development's 5,000 workers are due to be paid Wednesday. All these people face the prospect of half pay, since funds for work performed after Oct. 1 are not authorized.
The Friday civilian payroll here is estimated to be worth $41 million, but that will be cut in half unless Congress agrees on budgets in time.
The big Monday federal payout here is worth just over $59 million. Tuesday's pay day will be worth $115 million; Wednesday, $34 million; Thursday, $17 million and Friday, Oct. 19, would exceed $43 million.
Ironically, even as they as facing the prospect, of half-value paychecks, federal workers offically received their 7 percent raise yesterday. President Carter signed the executive order authorizing that boost -- a partial catch up with private industry. The raise will average 7 percent for most employes, although lowest paid workers in Grades 1 and 2 will actually get around 9.2 percent.
Even more ironic is what is happening (and not happening) to federal executives. Technically these employes, frozen for a couple of years at the $47,500 level, are due for a 12.9 percent raise. And they will get it -- but probably not for long.
The 12.9 percent figure results from a combination of a 5.5 percent raise they were authorized -- but not allowed to get -- last year, plus the added value of this year's 7 percent boost for other civil servants.
Federal officials expect Congress will cut those raises to 5.5 percent (although Congress could maintain the freeze at $47,500) when it finally settles on a congressional-executive pay boost for this year.
In the meantime, executive are now earning pay at the new, higher 12.9 percent rate. But how long they will be able to keep that amount or any part of it depends on what Congress finally does about top-level pay.