Obama Administration Freezes Federal Pay -- Economic Hit to D.C.

The Obama Administration announced a proposed two-year pay freeze for all federal workers in civilian jobs, reports Emily Long at GovExec.com. This could quiet some of the growing outrage over the reality that the average wage for the 1.95 million civilian workers is $81,258 versus $50,462 for the 101 million employees in the private sector.

As some of you might recall, before the disaster of the midterm elections for the Democratic party, the president had proposed a 1.4 percent pay increase for both civilian and military employees for the fiscal 2011 budget. But even then, not just the GOP was bug-eyed. Many unemployed and underemployed folks on Main Street resented that move. The media, which has tended to turn against the Obama Administration, hammered what federal workers were already getting paid and how much the increase would add onto that -- and the taxpayer's burden. However, the White House is positioning the move as a prudent economic one, not a knee jerk response to conservative, public, and media pressure.

This freeze proposal is part of the Administration's Accountable Government Initiative. The mission of that initiative is to cut costs and protect the taxpayers' pocketbook. The White House claims it will save about $2 billion for the rest of fiscal 2011 and a whopping $28 billion over five years.

That's all well and good for the government budget. However, it is grim news for the Washington, D.C., area, where about 600,000 federal employees and their families live. Up to now, that region has held up better than most of the rest of the nation during the global downturn. Such staying power could be over.

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