Hoyer: The Country Can’t Afford NOT to Provide Pay Parity

Whip Responds to Chairman’s Assertion that Country Cannot Afford Fair Pay Adjustment

For Immediate Release:

February 19, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in response to a recent Dear Colleague regarding the bipartisan principle of pay parity distributed to the press by Chairman Ernest Istook (R-OK):

“Chairman Istook asked in a recent Dear Colleague to Members of Congress regarding pay parity for federal civilian and military employees: ‘Can we afford this?’  The answer is we can’t afford not to provide pay parity for federal civilian and military employees.

“Providing pay parity represents a tiny fraction of the $2.4 trillion the President proposes spending in 2005, but pays big dividends in retaining quality employees who otherwise will take their valuable government expertise to the private sector, where salaries are generally higher. 

“As the federal workforce ages, it is imperative that the federal government has the tools to attract bright and hardworking young people to public service careers.  Without competitive salaries, the government will be helpless in recruiting an effective workforce capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century. 

“Currently, there is a 32 percent gap in salaries between federal employees and their private sector counterparts, the result of Congress’ failure to follow the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990.  Pay parity at least helps keep this huge gap from growing wider. 

"If the federal government does not continue to provide pay parity and fair pay adjustments, that gap will widen and the federal government will have a hard time recruiting and retaining quality employees at a time when we depend on tens of thousands of civilian federal employees to fight the war on terrorism.”

There are 1.8 million civilian federal employees across the country.  Bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate have consistently recognized that Congress and the Executive Branch should not undermine the morale of dedicated Federal public servants by failing to bring their pay adjustments in line with military personnel – providing pay parity 19 of the last 21 years.

The bipartisan principle of parity stems from the recognition that the pay for civilian and military employees simply has not kept pace with increases in the private sector.  According to the most recent studies, a 32 percent pay gap exists between the civilian employees and their private sector counterparts and an estimated 5.4 percent gap exists between the military service members and the private sector. 

###