Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969

Congress has linked adjustments in federal pay to the ECI so that wages for federal employees will remain competitive with wages paid by firms in the private sector. Under the terms of the Federal Employees' Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. These annual adjustments in federal employee pay-which are distinct from any pay raises associated with within-grade step increases or promotions to a higher pay grade-are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order.

Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Katelin P. Isaacs Analyst in Income Security December 7, 2010 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 94-971 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Summary Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retired federal employees and pay adjustments for current federal employees often differ because they are based on changes in different economic variables. Federal retirement and disability benefits are indexed to price increases as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), whereas pay adjustments for civilian federal workers are indexed to wage and salary increases in the private sector, as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Both the CPI-W and the ECI are calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Federal law requires Social Security benefits and pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted for inflation each year. The COLAs for both Social Security and civil service pensions are based on inflation as measured by the CPI-W. Congress has linked COLAs for Social Security and federal retirement benefits to the rate of increase in the prices of goods and services to protect retirement income from losing purchasing power through the effects of inflation. Congress has linked adjustments in federal pay to the ECI so that wages for federal employees will remain competitive with wages paid by firms in the private sector. Under the terms of the Federal Employees’ Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. These annual adjustments in federal employee pay—which are distinct from any pay raises associated with within-grade step increases or promotions to a higher pay grade—are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the ECI. Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual increase in federal pay by executive order. In general, wage increases reflect both improvements in the productivity of labor and increases in the general level of prices in the economy. Consequently, when measured over long periods of time, wages tend to rise faster than prices. Because COLAs for retirees do not reflect increases in the productivity of people who are still in the work force, COLAs do not make retirees financially better off. COLAs merely protect retirees from becoming financially worse-off as prices rise over time. In 2011, there will be no automatic COLA for recipients of Social Security benefits or federal civil service pensions because the price level as measured by the CPI-W did not increase over the comparison period. Increases in retirement benefits for retired federal employees were first linked to the CPI-W by law in 1962. Increases in Social Security benefits have been linked by law to changes in the CPI-W since 1973. Before then, Congress periodically adjusted Social Security benefits through legislation. Congress chose to tie increases in these benefits to the CPI-W to make the process less subject to political influences. At year-end 2009, the overall price level as measured by the CPI-W was 477% higher than it was in 1969, which is the index base year chosen for this report’s analysis. As of January 2010, Social Security benefits have risen by 626% since 1969, and federal civil service retirement benefits have risen by 496%. Average wages among all workers in the economy have risen by 632% since 1969. Salaries for civilian federal employees have grown by 428% since 1969, and the salaries of members of Congress have increased by 309%. This report is updated annually. Congressional Research Service Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Contents COLAs Versus Pay Adjustments .................................................................................................1 How to Use the Benefit and Pay Adjustment Table ......................................................................2 Procedures for Determining Adjustments ....................................................................................2 Social Security and Civil Service Retirement.........................................................................2 Federal Civil Service Pay ......................................................................................................3 Uniform Nationwide Pay Adjustment ..............................................................................4 Locality Pay Adjustments................................................................................................4 Federal Pay Raises for Within-Grade Step Increases and Promotions.....................................5 Pay for Members of Congress ...............................................................................................5 Average Annual Wages and Salaries ......................................................................................6 Price Increases ......................................................................................................................6 Tables Table 1. Annual Adjustments to Social Security Benefits, Federal Civilian Pensions, Federal Pay, Congressional Pay, National Average Wages, and Consumer Prices, 1969 to 2010.....................................................................................................................................7 Contacts Author Contact Information ...................................................................................................... 10 Acknowledgments .................................................................................................................... 10 Congressional Research Service Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 F ederal law requires Social Security benefits and the pensions paid to retired federal employees to be adjusted annually for inflation. The cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) both for Social Security and civil service pensions are based on inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Under the terms of the Federal Employees’ Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509), pay for civilian federal employees is adjusted each year to keep the salaries of federal workers competitive with comparable occupations in the private sector. The annual adjustments in federal employee pay are based on changes in the cash compensation paid to workers in the private sector, as measured by the Employment Cost Index (ECI). Under certain circumstances, the President may limit the annual adjustment in federal pay by executive order. This adjustment is separate from any pay increases resulting from within-grade step pay increases or promotions to a higher pay grade. Table 1 shows the adjustments since 1969—the index base year chosen for this analysis—in pay for federal employees and members of Congress and in the COLAs applied to Social Security benefits and federal civil service pensions. 1 Two national economic indexes are also displayed in Table 1 to provide a basis for comparison with benefits and pay. These indexes show the average annual change in the wages of all workers in the United States, as computed by the Social Security Administration, and the CPI-W, a price index computed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. COLAs Versus Pay Adjustments COLAs for retired federal workers and pay adjustments for current federal workers often differ because they are based on changes in different economic variables. Social Security benefits and federal retirement annuities are indexed to increases in the CPI-W, which measures changes in the price of a market basket of consumer goods and services. Congress has linked COLAs for Social Security and federal employee pensions to the rate of increase in the general level of prices to protect retirement income from losing purchasing power through the effects of price inflation. COLAs ensure that a retiree’s income will purchase the same amount of goods and services after years of retirement that it purchased at the start of retirement. COLAs do not reflect increases in the productivity of people who are still in the work force, and thus they do not increase the real purchasing power of retirement income. COLAs do not make retirees better off financially; they merely protect them from becoming financially worse-off over time as prices rise. Pay adjustments for federal workers are based on changes in private-sector wages and salaries. 2 The objective of federal pay policy is to keep pay in the federal government competitive with pay in the private sector. Adjustments in pay for federal civil service workers therefore are indexed to increases in the wages and salaries of private-sector employees. Over time, wage increases reflect increases in the nation’s output of goods and services as well as price increases. Because wage increases in the private sector reflect growth in the productivity of labor, wages tend to increase faster than prices when measured over long periods of time. 1 The income-tested programs of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and veterans’ pensions use the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula of Social Security. Each year since 1983 these benefits have been increased at the same time and by the same percentage as Social Security benefits. 2 For additional details on pay adjustments for federal workers, see CRS Report RL34463, Federal White-Collar Pay: FY2009 and FY2010 Salary Adjustments, by Barbara L. Schwemle. Congressional Research Service 1 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 How to Use the Benefit and Pay Adjustment Table Table 1 shows the percentage change in federal pay and retirement benefits for each year since 1969, and an index relative to the base year of 1969. The index shows the cumulative adjustment in pay or benefits, compounded annually, with a base of 100.0 in 1969. For example, Congress increased Social Security benefits by 15.0% in 1970, making benefits 115.0% of what they were in 1969. Another Social Security benefit increase of 10.0% was granted in 1971, making benefits 126.5% of what they had been in 1969. (1.15 X 1.10 = 1.265) Federal civilian retirees received a 5.6% increase in their annuities in 1970, raising those benefits to 105.6% of the 1969 level. The next increase in federal civilian retirement benefits was a 4.5% adjustment in 1971, bringing the average federal pension to 110.4% of its 1969 amount. (1.056 X 1.045 = 1.104) The bottom row of the index column shows how much federal pay and retirement benefits have grown since the index base year of 1969. (The “Federal Civil Service Pay Adjustments” column includes annual pay adjustments for comparability with private sector pay as well as localitybased pay adjustments, but does not contain pay raises resulting from within-grade step increases or promotions.) For example, with the COLA that was paid in Social Security checks issued in January 2009, these benefits had increased to 726% of their 1969 level, an increase of 626%.3 This means that a benefit initially paid in 1969 would be 7.26 times as large in 2009 if it were still being paid in that year. Benefit increases can be compared across programs by looking at the index column for any given year. For example, as of 1985, federal civilian pay had increased by 134% over what it had been in 1969, and congressional pay had increased by 77%. In comparison, average wages and salaries for all workers in the U.S. economy in 1985 were 185% greater than they had been in 1969. The column displaying the CPI-W shows that by 1985 the price level had increased by 190% since 1969. Procedures for Determining Adjustments Social Security and Civil Service Retirement Social Security and civil service retirement benefits are adjusted to offset the effect of inflation in the cost of living as measured by a price index. 4 Cost-of-living adjustments enable retirees to maintain the purchasing power of their retirement income. Automatic adjustments to offset erosion in the value of retirement benefits caused by inflation were first applied to civil service retirement benefits by P.L. 87-783, enacted in 1962. In 1972, P.L. 92-336, provided for automatic inflation-related increases in Social Security benefits.5 Benefit increases in Social Security 3 An index of 726 means that the number is 726% of the base, which is an increase of 626%, just as 200 is 200% of 100 and represents an increase of 100% from a base of 100. 4 The two retirement systems for federal civil service workers use different adjustment systems. The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which applies to workers first hired into federal service before 1984, provides a full COLA for all retirees and survivors. The Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) covers workers hired on or after January 1, 1984, and others who voluntarily switched from CSRS to FERS. To constrain retirement costs, Congress placed restrictions on COLAs to FERS retirees. FERS provides COLAs to retirees under the age of 62 only if they are disabled or are survivor annuitants. FERS retirees aged 62 or older receive a full COLA only if the CPI increases by 2.0% or less. FERS retirees receive a 2.0% COLA if the CPI increase is between 2.0% and 3.0%. If the CPI increases by 3.0% or more, the FERS COLA is 1 percentage point less than the CPI. 5 This law was amended in 1973 by P.L. 93-66 and P.L. 93-233 before the 1972 law went into effect. Congressional Research Service 2 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 preceding 1975 were not automatic COLAs linked to inflation, but were special adjustments legislated by Congress. For example, Congress granted the 1970, 1971, and 1972 Social Security increases of 15%, 10%, and 20%, respectively, in part because of concern about the number of elderly Americans living in poverty. These increases were intended not just to offset inflation in those years, but to raise the real level of benefits. The 8.0% Social Security increase effective in June 1975 was the first automatic inflation-related COLA. The large increases in Social Security benefits that Congress provided periodically before the program was indexed to inflation have had a substantial effect on the cumulative index for Social Security shown in Table 1 because the table uses 1969 as the base year for the index. This may create a somewhat misleading impression if Social Security benefit increases are compared with the civil service retirement program, which was indexed to inflation in the early 1960s. For example, if 1975 were used as the base year for the index instead of 1969, the cumulative Social Security increase through January 2009 would be 299%. This is almost the same as the 284% cumulative increase in civil service retirement benefits during that period. 6 The benefit adjustments in these programs are made by computing the average monthly CPI-W for the third quarter of the current calendar year (July, August, and September) and comparing it with the average CPI-W for the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined. For example, the 5.8% Social Security COLA paid in January 2009 represents the increase in the average monthly CPI for July, August, and September of 2008 over the average monthly CPI for July, August, and September of 2007. The benefit increases are first included in checks issued in the month of January and take place automatically unless legislation is enacted to change them. In FY1986, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act canceled civil service retiree COLAs. In 1994, 1995, and 1996, P.L. 103-66 (the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993) delayed civil service nondisability retiree COLAs until April in order to achieve budget savings. If consumer prices as measured by the CPI-W do not increase from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was paid to the third quarter of the current year, there is no COLA for annuities paid under CSRS or FERS. From the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009, the CPI-W fell by 2.1%. Therefore, there was no COLA under either CSRS or FERS in January 2010. Because the price level fell between the third quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009, the average monthly CPI for the third quarter of 2008 remained the basis on which the COLA was determined for 2011.7 From the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2010, the CPI-W fell by 0.6%. Therefore, there will be no COLA applied to Social Security and civil service pensions in January 2011. Federal Civil Service Pay8 The Federal Employees’ Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-509) established a two-step system for setting and adjusting federal pay. Step one is an annual adjustment that applies uniformly to all “white collar” federal civil service employees covered by the general schedule (GS) pay system, the foreign service pay system, and certain pay systems for employees of the 6 From 1969 through 1976, the adjustment for civil service retirement was 1 percentage point more than the rate of inflation. 7 See 5 U.S.C. § 8340 and 5 U.S.C. § 8462. 8 For more information on federal pay, see CRS Report RL34463, Federal White-Collar Pay: FY2009 and FY2010 Salary Adjustments, by Barbara L. Schwemle. Congressional Research Service 3 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Department of Veterans Affairs. The second step comprises locality-based salary adjustments that vary by geographic area. Neither of these adjustments constitute merit-based pay raises (i.e., within-grade step increases or promotions to a higher pay grade). Uniform Nationwide Pay Adjustment The uniform nationwide annual adjustment to the general schedule pay scale is based on the average pay raise received by workers in the private sector from year to year. The Pay Comparability Act specifies that the nationwide pay adjustments for federal white-collar GS workers are to be one-half percentage point less than private sector wage increases, as measured by the ECI.9 The increase is computed by comparing the ECI for the third quarter of the previous calendar year to the ECI in the third quarter of the calendar year before that. Thus, there is a 15month lag between the measurement period and the effective date of the pay raise. On the basis of the 2.9% increase in the ECI from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2008, the base pay adjustment for federal employees in January 2010 as determined under the Pay Comparability Act would have been 2.4%. Although P.L. 101-509 specifies that the annual national increase in basic GS pay rates will be equal to the percentage change in the ECI minus 0.5 percentage point, the law gives the President authority to limit pay adjustments through executive order in the event of serious economic conditions or a national emergency affecting the general welfare.10 Locality Pay Adjustments P.L. 101-509 authorized locality-based pay adjustments for civilian federal employees in specified occupations and geographic locations to reflect the salary levels of private-sector workers in similar occupations in those areas. The original objective of the civil service locality pay program was to bring federal salaries to within 5% of private sector salaries over a nine-year period (1994 through 2002). Once pay parity is achieved, locality pay adjustments are no longer to be made unless the gap subsequently widens to more than 5%. Although Congress suspended the uniform nationwide civil service pay adjustment for 1994, it agreed to pay locality adjustments to civil service workers. Since 1994, Congress has set aside P.L. 101-509 and specified in appropriations bills the amounts available for distribution each year as locality pay adjustments. On November 30, 2009, President Obama sent to Congress a legislative proposal for a 2.0% pay adjustment in 2010 for federal employees, but with no locality adjustments. On December 16, 2009, the President signed the FY2010 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 111-117), which included a 1.5% across-the-board pay adjustment along with locality payment averaging 0.5%. On December 23, 2009, the President issued an executive order that set the locality adjustment.11 9 The Bureau of Labor Statistics updates the ECI quarterly to measure changes in wages and salaries in private-sector, non-farm employment. 10 Pay adjustments for members of the Senior Executive Service are not prescribed by law. They are established by the President through an executive order. Thus, they may be the same as or different from other civil service pay adjustments. 11 The complete 2010 general schedule salary tables are online at http://www.opm.gov/oca/10tables/index.asp. Congressional Research Service 4 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Federal Pay Raises for Within-Grade Step Increases and Promotions The data in the column labeled “Federal Civil Service Pay Adjustments” in Table 1 reflect post1969 uniform nationwide pay adjustments and locality pay adjustments applicable to the government’s overall pay scales for workers in GS positions, from GS-1, step 1, through the highest grade of GS-15, step 10. As noted above, the government adjusts the federal GS pay scale periodically (usually once a year) to be competitive with wages and salaries paid by other employers. The pay adjustments in Table 1 do not portray the total pay increases that any individual or group of individuals might have received. As federal employees move through their careers, they receive pay raises when they are granted a within-grade step increase or when they receive a promotion to a higher pay grade. Both step increases and promotions to higher grades are merit increases that are based on an individual’s performance in his or her job. If a worker were to receive all within-grade step increases at the first point of eligibility without being promoted to a higher pay grade, it would take 18 years to move from step 1 of a pay grade to step 10. The pay increases between steps range from 2.5% to 3.3%. Thus, although Table 1 indicates that GS pay scales increased by 265% between 1975 and 2010, the pay in 2010 of an individual who had been continuously employed in a federal GS job between 1975 and 2010 would have risen by more than 265% due to the combined effects of increases in the overall pay scales, within-grade step increases, and promotions to higher grades. Some workers receive step increases but few promotions; others receive steady, periodic promotions; and still others receive rapid promotions and spend many years at high pay grades. Thus, it is not possible to characterize in general terms how the actual pay of long-term federal workers increases over time. Consequently, Table 1 should not be construed as characterizing the salary history of a typical federal employee. Pay for Members of Congress The procedures for adjusting the pay of civilian federal employees were applied to members of Congress and other high-level federal officials by P.L. 94-82, enacted on August 9, 1975. In the Government Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-194), Congress approved different pay increases for the House and the Senate for 1990 and 1991. Subsequent legislation passed by Congress once again made Senators’ pay equal to that of Representatives, effective in August 1991. P.L. 101-194 also established a new procedure for setting members’ pay. Beginning in 1991, members’ annual pay raises were based on changes in the ECI reduced by 0.5 percentage point and capped at 5.0%. On several occasions, Congress has voted to cancel the pay raises it was authorized to receive under P.L. 101-194. Congress declined the pay raises that it otherwise would have received in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2007, and 2010.12 The annual pay adjustment for members of Congress is computed by comparing the ECI for the fourth quarter of the previous calendar year with the ECI in the fourth quarter of the preceding year. Thus, there is a 12-month lag between the measuring period and implementation of the pay raise. Based on the increase in the ECI from December 2007 to December 2008, members were scheduled to receive a pay adjustment in January 2010 of 2.1%. A provision in the FY2009 12 For more information, see CRS Report 97-1011, Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables, by Ida A. Brudnick. Congressional Research Service 5 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-8, March 11, 2009), however, prevented the pay adjustment for 2010. Representatives and Senators received no pay increase in 2010. Average Annual Wages and Salaries The column labeled “Average Annual Wages/Salaries” displays the average annual increases in wages and salaries earned by all workers in the United States as reported by the Social Security Administration Board of Trustees. Like the data on civil service pay, this column does not reflect the pay raises an individual worker might receive from year to year, because as workers gain skills and experience they usually receive both pay raises and promotions. The data in Table 1 reflect average wage growth for the entire workforce, which is influenced by the retirement of older, higher-paid workers and the entrance of younger, lower-paid workers. It also reflects shifts in the structure of wages caused by declining employment in certain sectors of the economy and increasing employment in other sectors. Because of the combined effects of pay raises and promotions, a typical worker with a permanent attachment to the labor force would have experienced wage growth greater than that shown in Table 1. Price Increases The final column of Table 1 shows the annual percentage change in consumer prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W). The CPI-W represents the average change nationwide in a typical “market basket” of goods and services purchased by urban consumers who earn more than half of their income from clerical or wage occupations and who were also employed at least 37 weeks in the previous year. The CPI-W population makes up about 32% of the total population.13 Using the price level of 1969 as the base for the index, the CPI-W had risen to 569 by 2009, meaning that consumer prices had risen by 469% over a 40-year period. This represents an average annual increase in consumer prices of 4.4% over the period from 1969 to 2009. Over the same period, wages and salaries rose at an average annual rate of 5.1%, or 0.7% faster than prices. The 2009 index for Social Security benefits was higher than the price index (726 compared to 569), but this largely reflects the ad hoc increases granted by Congress in the early 1970s. Between 1975 and 2009, the Social Security index rose by 299% and the CPI-W rose by 288%.14 Federal civilian retirement benefits grew at nearly the same rate as consumer prices from 1969 to 2009, with the differences accounted for mainly by the lag-time between price measurement and the implementation date of the COLAs for these benefits. Adjustments in pay for civilian federal employees grew more slowly than consumer prices over the period shown in Table 1, standing at an index value of 518 in 2009, compared to a CPI-W of 569. 13 Prior to 1978, the CPI-W was the only CPI measured published by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Beginning in 1978, BLS introduced the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) so that a broader share of the population would be represented in estimates of changes in the price level. The CPI-U is based on the expenditure patterns of all urban consumers and covers about 87% of the population. The CPI-U is usually the more publicized of the two price indexes. For additional information on these two CPI measures, see CRS Report RS21245, The Chained Consumer Price Index: A Brief Explanation, by Brian W. Cashell. 14 Social Security and civil service retirement are indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W). Congressional Research Service 6 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Table 1. Annual Adjustments to Social Security Benefits, Federal Civilian Pensions, Federal Pay, Congressional Pay, National Average Wages, and Consumer Prices, 1969 to 2010 Social Security Benefits Year Percentage Change 1969 Index Civilian (CSRS) Retirementa Percentage Change 100.0 Index Federal Civil Service Pay Adjustmentsb Percentage Change 100.0 Index Congressional Pay Adjustmentsc Percentage Change 100.0 Index Average Annual Wages/Salariesd Percentage Change 100.0 Index Consumer Prices (CPI-W)e Percentage Change 100.0 Index 100.0 1970 15.0 115.0 5.6 105.6 6.0 106.0 5.0 105.0 5.7 105.7 1971 10.0 126.5 4.5 110.4 6.0 112.4 5.0 110.3 4.4 110.4 1972 20.0 151.8 4.8 115.6 10.9 124.6 9.8 121.1 3.4 114.1 6.1 122.7 4.8 130.6 6.3 128.7 6.2 121.2 5.9 136.3 11.0 134.5 7.5 146.5 9.1 146.7 6.9 156.6 5.7 155.1 6.0 166.0 6.5 165.2 7.9 179.1 7.7 177.9 8.7 194.7 11.4 198.2 1973 1974 11.0 168.5 12.2 137.6 5.5 137.7 1975 8.0 182.0 12.8 155.2 5.0 144.6 1976 6.4 193.6 5.4 163.6 4.8 151.6 1977 5.9 205.0 9.3 178.8 7.0 162.2 1978 6.5 218.4 7.4 192.0 5.5 171.1 1979 9.9 240.0 11.1 213.3 7.0 183.1 1980 14.3 274.3 14.2 243.5 9.1 199.7 9.0 212.2 13.4 224.8 1981 11.2 305.0 4.4 254.2 4.8 209.3 10.1 233.7 10.3 247.9 1982 7.4 327.6 8.7 276.3 4.0 217.7 5.5 246.5 6.0 262.2 3.9 287.1 4.9 258.6 3.0 270.7 1983 1984 3.5 339.1 1985 3.5 350.9 1986 3.1 361.8 1987 1.3 366.5 1.3 301.0 3.0 241.4 1988 4.2 381.9 4.2 313.7 2.0 1989 4.0 397.2 4.0 326.2 1990 4.7 415.9 4.7 341.6 CRS-7 3.5 297.2 4.9 28.9 5.5 15.1 104.9 135.2 142.7 164.2 4.0 226.4 4.0 170.8 5.9 273.8 3.5 280.1 3.5 234.3 3.4 176.6 4.3 285.6 3.5 289.9 3.0 294.2 1.6 294.6 6.4 313.0 3.6 305.2 246.2 4.9 328.3 4.0 317.4 4.1 256.3 4.0 341.5 4.8 332.6 3.6 265.5 4.6 357.2 5.2 349.9 19.2 7.9 210.5 227.1 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Social Security Benefits Civilian (CSRS) Retirementa Federal Civil Service Pay Adjustmentsb Congressional Pay Adjustmentsc Average Annual Wages/Salariesd Consumer Prices (CPI-W)e Year Percentage Change Index Percentage Change Index Percentage Change Index Percentage Change Index Percentage Change Index Percentage Change Index 1991 5.4 438.3 5.4 360.0 4.1 276.4 29.5 294.1 3.7 370.4 4.0 364.0 1992 3.7 454.5 3.7 373.3 4.2 288.0 3.5 304.4 5.2 389.7 2.9 374.6 1993 3.0 468.2 3.0 384.5 3.7 298.7 3.2 314.1 0.9 393.2 2.8 385.2 1994 2.6 480.3 2.6 394.5 4.0 310.6 2.7 403.8 2.5 394.9 1995 2.8 493.8 2.8 405.6 2.6 318.7 4.0 419.9 2.8 406.1 1996 2.6 506.6 2.6 416.1 2.4 326.3 4.9 440.5 2.9 418.0 1997 2.9 521.3 2.9 428.2 3.0 336.1 5.8 466.1 2.2 427.2 1998 2.1 532.2 2.1 437.2 2.9 345.9 5.2 490.3 1.3 432.9 1999 1.3 539.2 1.3 442.9 3.6 358.3 5.6 517.8 2.2 442.6 2000 2.4 552.1 2.4 453.5 4.8 375.5 3.4 332.3 5.5 546.2 3.5 458.0 2001 3.5 571.5 3.5 469.4 3.7 389.4 2.7 341.3 2.4 559.3 2.7 470.5 2002 2.6 586.3 2.6 481.6 4.6 407.3 3.4 352.9 1.0 564.9 1.4 476.9 2003 1.4 594.5 1.4 488.3 4.1 424.0 3.1 363.8 2.4 578.5 2.2 487.6 2004 2.1 607.0 2.1 498.6 4.1 441.4 2.2 371.8 4.6 605.1 2.6 500.3 2005 2.7 623.4 2.7 512.0 3.5 456.9 2.5 381.2 3.7 627.5 3.5 517.9 2006 4.1 649.0 4.1 533.0 3.1 471.0 1.9 388.4 4.6 656.4 3.2 534.6 2007 3.3 670.4 3.3 550.6 2.2 481.4 4.5 686.1 2.9 549.8 2008 2.3 685.8 2.3 563.3 3.5 498.2 2.5 398.0 2.3 701.9 4.1 572.3 2009 5.8 725.6 5.8 595.9 3.9 517.7 2.8 409.2 0.9 708.2 -0.7 568.5 2010 0.0 725.6 0.0 595.9 2.0 528.0 0.0 409.2 3.4 732.3 1.5 577.0 2.3 321.4 Source: Congressional Research Service. Notes: Changes are shown for the calendar year in which the increase appeared in the checks issued. For years in which payments were increased more than once, the compounded effects are shown. a. CRS-8 The COLAs in this column are those paid to CSRS annuitants. The COLAs paid under FERS (which are lower than CSRS COLAs in any year that inflation exceeds 2.0%), are not shown. See CRS Report 94-834, Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Federal Civil Service Annuities for FERS COLAs each year since 1988. Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 b. The federal civilian pay adjustments in this column include annual pay adjustments for comparability with private sector pay as well as locality-based pay adjustments. This column does not contain pay raises resulting from within-grade step increases or promotions. For more information on pay adjustments for federal employees, see CRS Report RL34463, Federal White-Collar Pay: FY2009 and FY2010 Salary Adjustments, by Barbara L. Schwemle. c. The changes in each year are those for members of the House of Representatives. In 1969, Representatives and Senators were each paid $42,500. In 2009, Representatives and Senators were each paid $174,000 per year. There was no pay raise for Senators in Representatives in calendar year 2010. d. Computed by the Social Security Administration, based on wage data reported by employers to the Internal Revenue Service. Average wages for 2009 and 2010 are estimates of the Office of the Actuary of the Social Security Administration. e. The CPI-W for 2010 is the August 2009 estimate of the Congressional Budget Office. CRS-9 Federal Employees: Pension COLAs and Pay Adjustments Since 1969 Author Contact Information Katelin P. Isaacs Analyst in Income Security kisaacs@crs.loc.gov, 7-7355 Acknowledgments This report was originally prepared by former CRS Specialist Patrick Purcell. Please direct any inquiries to the listed author. Congressional Research Service 10