Federal Salaries Fall Further Behind Private Sector, New Report Shows

Press Release October 28, 2022

Washington D.C. – Federal employee salaries in 2022 have fallen further behind the private sector, according to new data released Friday by the Federal Salary Council. 

Federal employees on average earned 24.09 percent less this year than their counterparts in the private sector. In 2021, the gap was 22.47 percent. 

“As any federal employee can tell you, it’s getting harder to stretch their paycheck to keep up with the bills, and now we see that employers in the private sector have done a better job than the federal government in helping their workers support themselves and their families,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon, a member of the Federal Salary Council. “This is just one more piece of data that supports our argument that federal employees deserve an average 5.1 percent federal pay raise starting this January.” 

The White House has proposed a 4.6 percent average increase for federal workers in 2023, which would be the highest raise in 20 years. However, NTEU earlier this year endorsed the FAIR Act, which would provide an average increase of 4.1 percent across the board and put 1 percent toward locality pay, for a total average raise of 5.1 percent. Congress or the White House could choose to enact the higher amount between now and January. 

“A pay raise would immediately improve the standard of living for hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families in every state and community across the country,” Reardon said. “But what the Federal Salary Council showed us today is that higher federal salaries are essential in helping federal agencies recruit and retain the highly skilled workers they need to serve the American people.” 

The 24.09 percent pay gap accounts for the locality pay adjustments federal employees receive in certain areas of the country with a higher cost of living and higher overall wages. The Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) was passed in 1990 specifically to narrow that gap, but it’s never been fully implemented.  

“The pay gap is why the IRS in some communities, for example, will lose entry-level job applicants to retail jobs nearby,” Reardon said. “The Council heard emotional testimony Friday from around the country that federal agencies are struggling to maintain staffing levels and keep valuable workers from leaving for jobs outside the federal government, which is why the Council continues to support expansions to locality pay areas where needed.” 

The Federal Salary Council determines the pay gap using U.S. Department of Labor data that compares the salaries of public and private sector jobs with similar duties. The Office of Personnel Management provided the salary information to the council in its meeting Friday.  

NTEU represents federal employees in 34 federal agencies and offices.