Pay raise - to be or not to be?

Thursday - 6/20/2013, 2:00am EDT

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey is on vacation. Linda at the IRS penned today's guest column.

Imagine if William Shakespeare were alive today. Maybe a technician at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, or a public affairs specialist at Interior's headquarters in downtown D.C. Would he still come up with stuff like "to be, or not to be, that is the question?" Maybe. Or would he be preoccupied by the prospect of a furlough, or of paying higher health premiums in 2014 with a 2010 paycheck?

If he was one of the frozen feds, who haven't had a pay raise in three years, today's guest columnist says money might be high on his agenda. Here's her take:

To Raise or Not to Raise?

To give the federal employees a raise or not? That is the question. But I think most federal employees already know the answer. A raise is not going to happen for 2013 for sure, and most likely not for 2014.

So, the real question is: What are the consequences of no raises over five years? Does the government save money? Over the short term, it probably does not save enough to make a difference. Over the long term, yes, as retirement payments are less than they would have been, the matching to the TSP is less, etc. Will these saving reduce the deficit to zero? No, not even close. Compared to the military and social programs, it is a drop in the bucket.

So saving some money is a pro. What are the cons?

While it is understood that Congress doesn't want to hire any new government employees right now as they want to reduce the size of government, what about in the future? The average age of a federal employee is age 47. This means lots of reading glasses are used in the service! So at 47 years of age, most of these employees are likely to be FERS and are eligible to retire in about 10 years.

Just looking at a chart of age break-downs. There are 420,782 employees in the 55 and over category that are eligible to retire right now, or 25 percent. Add 5 years to that and almost 44 percent are eligible to retire. Go to 10 years and it is 61 percent. This is assuming of course, little to no hiring. These equate to a large number of employees retiring. The saying; "Last one out, turn off the lights" is beginning to have merit.

Sooner or later federal employees will have to be hired or there will be no one left to run the social programs such as Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. This also includes the military that Congress doesn't seem to want to cut.

What then? Who are they going to hire? With no pay raises, talks of reduced benefits and the way Congress continues to bash the federal employees, rather than appreciate the good job they have been and are doing in difficult times, fewer people will want to be a federal employee. Would anyone blame them?

Forty-seven percent of federal employees hold a bachelors degree or higher, vs. the private sector at 18 percent. This shows the government has or is required to hire educated, intelligent people to get the job done. It is probably a good thing government isn't hiring right now; what intelligent hardworking person would want a government job? If there are lawmakers who read Mike's column, maybe you can answer that question? Linda at the IRS


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