Pentagon to pare back military pay increase request for 2014

Thursday - 2/7/2013, 5:51am EST

The Defense Department's budget request for 2014 will include a proposed pay increase of 1 percent for 2014, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The raise is less than the 1.7 percent increase the Pentagon proposed and Congress later authorized for 2013. It is also lower than what DoD had planned to ask for in 2014 when it submitted last year's budget.

"Given the current budget environment, this pay raise is less than previously projected but allows the Department to maintain critical investments in readiness and modernization going forward," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Department leaders preserved an increase in compensation as part of a balanced approach to future defense budgets that ensures service members are fully equipped, trained, and supported."

The final pay rate for next fiscal year would have to be approved by Congress, which authorized this year's pay raises last December, but still has not provided a 2013 budget to pay for military personnel or any other aspect of DoD spending for the full fiscal year.

The Pentagon generally tries to align its pay increases for military personnel with future projections of the Labor Department's Employment Cost Index in order to make sure military pay increases keep pace with the broader job market.

DoD said last year it would continue to do so in 2013 and 2014, but would ask for raises below the level of the ECI in later years in order to constrain personnel costs, which have risen 90 percent since 2001, according to the Defense Department. The 2014 budget would appear to accelerate that cost containment effort by one year.

The pay raise would not apply to non-uniformed DoD employees, who, like the rest of the federal government's civilian workforce, have had their pay frozen for the past two years. Most of those civilians are expected to see effective pay reductions of 20 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year if the Pentagon activates plans to partially furlough 780,000 civilian workers as a consequence of sequestration.

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