Fearless pay forecast. Your 1980 raise will be: (A) 6.2 percent. (B) 8.5 percent. (C) Zero. (D) None of the above. Explanation:
(A) The 6.2 percent figure makes sense because that is what Carter has budgeted for October 1980 federal pay raises. He admits the amount should be double that, under the present system of measuring federal vs. industry salaries, but he says that system is incomplete and misleading and must be reformed. If Congress okays his reform bill by midsummer, he says, it will result in a catchup-with-industry raise of about 6.2 percent.
(B) A raise of about 8.5 percent is predicted by many federal union leaders. They believe Carter will follow the wage guidelines worked out with the AFL-CIO. Those guidelines would allow for raises of between 7.5 percent and 9.5 percent. Besides, they believe Carter is going to need all the votes he can get, and that he will decide to be more generous iwth the bureaucracy in October, so it will be more generous to him (as opposed to Ronald Reagan) in November.
(C) The zero prediction is based on warnings from top Carter aides. They have said Carter may get really tough if Congress stalls his pay reform, and gives federal workers much less than 6.2 percent -- like maybe nothing unless reform is okayed. They doubt the civil service vote will go to Reagan, no matter what happens to the federal pay raise.
(D) The none-of-the-above option. That is mandatory for columnists. Especially valuable this year with the nation jumping from crisis to crisis, with inflation giving everybody heat rash and with most voters holding their noses while they pull the lever.
Reason for this not-so-fearless forecast: People call here every day to find out about the pay raise. Federal types, spouses, ex-spouses, creditors. Personnel directors of local firms call. Union negotiators from local governments. Real estate agents want to know what October will bring to this town's biggest industry. A raise for 400,000 people is a big deal.
I give them the best advice I can: That is, I don't know. Haven't the foggist. I tell them to call 456-1414 and ask for Mr. Carter -- but don't do that. He is busy, and doesn't know either. Carter won't make up his mind until mid-August. Until he does, all the speculation in the world is pointless. So don't raise rents, take a second mortgage, or anything else based on an assumed pay raise until it is signed, sealed and delivered.