Schatz introduces bill to raise federal employee pay across the nation

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Lawmakers hope to increase federal employees’ pay by 7.4% in 2025.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, a bill that restores years of lost wage increases for federal employees.

Workers did receive a 4.6% pay raise in 2023 and a 5.2% raise in 2024. Nonetheless, federal employee pay increases have failed to keep pace with rising labor and living costs.

In addition, the 2023 Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey governmentwide management report found that over the last three years, pay satisfaction declined from 67% to 57%, noting that a lack of competitive pay hurts the recruitment, retention, and quality of the civil service.

“Whether inspecting our food, conducting medical research, or caring for our veterans, federal workers play an important role in our everyday lives and deserve pay which reflects that,” said Schatz. “After years of pay freezes, our bill gives these dedicated public servants a much-deserved raise.”


William Shackelford, National President, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, is grateful for Schatz and Connolly and their work to increase pay. He said the proposed legislation would be a strong pay raise to counter a resilient labor market, steadily increasing private-sector pay, continued price increases and the persistent gap between private-sector and federal pay for similar jobs.

The federal government has a history of chronic underinvestment in its most valuable asset: the federal workforce. Federal employees have had to endure government shutdowns, pay freezes, hiring freezes, and lost pay due to sequestration-related furloughs. According to the Federal Salary Council, Federal employees on average earned 27.54% less in 2023 than their counterparts in the private sector.

Despite the raise increase in 2024, it was not enough to offset rising inflation and the widened federal-private pay deficit, which rose 5% and is now over 27%, according to the most recent report from the Federal Salary Council.

“Congress must understand that to attract and retain a skilled workforce that best serves the American people, we need to pay our civil servants competitive wages,” said Randy Erwin, National President, National Federation of Federal Employees. “The FAIR Act is a simple, yet effective tool to ensure all federal employees can earn a living wage and their communities receive the best essential services from the federal government.”


Several federal labor unions support this legislation.

“After more than two decades of lagging pay that has led to federal employees earning nearly 28% less than their private-sector counterparts, it is time to start making progress toward parity in federal pay,” said Everett Kelley, National President, American Federation of Government Employees. “This bill takes a crucial first step in that direction.”

“Federal firefighters protect our nation’s most valuable and sensitive assets, yet their pay averages just $16 an hour. This low wage is not sustainable for recruiting and retaining our best,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters. “These men and women deserve pay that recognizes the sacrifices and risks they undertake in the service to our country. A COLA of 7.4% is just one step we must take to ensure federal firefighters a fair, living wage…”

“Federal managers deserve to be treated with respect for their efforts and the work they have performed over many years. Every job they hold and perform daily is because of a congressional mandate. It is not too much to ask that, in return, feds be given the ability to maintain a living wage that provides for them and their families. We are grateful for Congressman Connolly’s continued leadership on behalf of the entire federal community with the introduction of the FAIR Act. He is a steadfast supporter of the workforce and FMA enthusiastically endorses the FAIR Act. We look forward to working with Congressman Connolly and his office to build support for this important bill,” said Craig Carter, National President, Federal Managers Association.


“Whether they’re responding to natural disasters, keeping the food supply safe, or helping our working families receive the benefits they need to survive, federal employees keep our communities strong. Their pay should reflect the essential nature of their work, and that is why AFSCME strongly endorses the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act. The 7.4% raise for 2025 will help retain more quality federal employees, while allowing agencies to recruit more passionate individuals to public service. We applaud Rep. Gerry Connolly and Sen. Brian Schatz for their leadership on this important bill,” said Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“NTEU strongly supports the FAIR Act by Rep. Connolly and other lawmakers who value the federal workforce and understand the need to raise employee salaries in 2025. Federal pay fell even further behind the private sector last year and the FAIR Act is an important step in addressing that gap. By making the federal government a more competitive option for skilled workers, federal agencies can recruit and retain the employees necessary to better serve the American people. The federal employees we represent live and work in every city and state across the country, and a fair pay raise will improve the economic security of their families and their communities,” said Doreen Greenwald, National President, National Treasury Employees Union.

The full text of the FAIR Act is available here.

Schatz’s FAIR Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i).

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