Over two million federal workers may not be getting a pay raise in the foreseeable future.
Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase government salaries ''half- a-percent'' next December, the House voted Wednesday evening to ''freeze pay'' through 2013.
This could be the third year federal employees are have their pay frozen—and it comes just as their private sector counterparts can expect a nearly three-percent pay raise this year.
“The time when that information comes out that there's going to be a pay freeze, of course there are grumblings and people are like 'I'm looking for another job,' type thing,” said Ted Endicott, a FEMA program specialist. He adds that furloughs and freezes are taking a toll on worker morale.
With news of possibly no pay raise next year, Thursday could be a tough day in Endicott's office.
“If the public wants top quality people in their government they do have to be willing to pay,” he said.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House voted to freeze pay for another year. Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran spoke against the measure. His district is home to 65,000 federal workers.
"Two out of three federal employees work in jobs related to our national security, at home and abroad, or caring for our veterans. Every one of those employees seems to be the target of this body's misguided anger. And that's just wrong," Moran said.
John Palguta, Vice President of the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, says worker productivity is at stake.
“The work government does is quite important and it doesn't get done well unless you have really engaged, dedicated employees. I think we do, I don't want to lose that,” he said.
The discussion over federal pay is happening on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office study Monday, showing federal workers make up nearly two percent of the U.S. workforce but on average earn 16-percent more than private sector employees.
“We have these disparities, some overpaid, some underpaid, some paid about right, we need to change the pay system,” he said.
Endicott says congress needs to look for balance when handling federal paychecks.
“It's not you know, freeze everyone's pay and it's not give everyone what they want, it's somewhere in the middle,” Endicott said.