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A 2.6 Percent Military Pay Raise for 2019?

First 2019 Military Pay Raise Indicator Released

Updated: November 4, 2017

Today, October 31, 2017, at 0830EST, the United States Employment Cost Index (ECI) was released. The releasing of the ECI by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is an eagerly awaited quarterly economic indicator for those in the stock market and politics. What makes this morning’s release important to the United States military is this one is the main economic indicator is used to determine any pay raise amount for 2019’s raise.

The indicator from ECI that is utilized for the 2019 raise is the “wages and salaries, for private industry workers for the period ending September 2017”; this morning’s number is 2.6. For 2019, the military should see a raise of 2.6 percent; however, if the last five years are an indication, the Department of Defense will once again request a lesser amount, and it is likely that the President Trump will follow that recommendation.

According to U.S. Code Title 37, that is how it is supposed to work. If the President determines that the state of the economy is such that he must intervene, he can deviate from the amount dictated by the ECI figure. For 2014 through 2017’s pay raise, President Obama stepped in and followed the recommendation of the Department of Defense (DOD) to mandate the lesser raise, and because, with the exception of 2017’s raise, Congress did not find the money in the budget to pay for the additional percent increase, lower amounts carried the day.

For the 2018 raise, President Trump also proposed a lesser percentage pay increase that was inline with DoD’s request than otherwise required by Title 37.

The Senate and House’s National Defense Authorization bills for 2018 are currently in the reconciliation process. The Senate’s version of the bill contains language to limit the President’s ability to make a decision to vary from the ECI figure for future raises. The Senate’s bill also supports the President’s 2.1 percent raise for 2018 — the House’s version makes no mention of a pay raise which means they default to the 2.4 percent (the ECI figure for 2018).

The 2018 military pay chart (currently 2.1 percent), and the 2019 military pay chart (2.6 percent added to the 2018 figures). Both charts will be immediately updated if/when the raise percentage changes.

The next major indication of a pay raise amount for 2019 will be in President Trump’s budget release expected in early February 2018.

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Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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