U.S. Military Basic Pay History
Military "basic pay" is the primary pay earned by each member serving in the armed forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard*).
Covering a majority of the time post World War II, the military basic pay chart associates the pay raise amount with the President who signed the legislation or order that implemented it. Each of the year's pages linked contains every pay grade's (officer and enlisted) monthly Active Duty basic pay. The attached pages also contain the relevant legislative news for the corresponding raise, and they provide links to secondary pays and allowances tied to that specific year.
|The 2010's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|The 2000's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|4.8%¹||3.7%¹ˆ¹||1 to 12%||4.7%||3.7 to 5.7%|
|The 1990's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|The 1980's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|7%||11.7%||10 to 16.5%||4%||4%|
|The 1970's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|The 1960's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|12.6%||2.5% to 8.5%||E:11% O:6%||3.2%|
|The 1950's Military Pay and Allowance Charts|
|4%||0 to 9%||0 to 13%|
Es = Estimated. P = Proposed. E = Enlisted. O = Officer. C = Latest congressional approval.
- 2017-2019 estimates based on the Department of Defense budget desires as laid out in the Green Book for FY-2016 released on March 17, 2015.
- 1986 pay frozen at 1985 levels. The 1986 chart does not display what was paid, but does show the amount per the 3% increase that was passed and would have been paid out if not for being frozen.
- Note ¹:
- Targeted basic pay raises effective July 1, 2000 beyond the approved January 1, 2000 increase of 4.8%.
- Note ¹ˆ¹:
- Targeted increases, effective July 1, 2001, the basic pay amounts for enlisted personnel in grades E-5 through E-7.
- Note ¹ˆ²:
- Additional targeted increase totaling 4.6% for various pay grades effective April 1, 2007. Added longevity raises at the 30, 34 and 38 year mark for only the most senior enlisted and officer pay grades.
- Note ¹ˆ³:
- Pay raise of one percent for all pay grades except O-7 through O-10 which were frozen at 2014 levels.
*The Coast Guard is currently a part of the Department of Homeland Security, and it is from that budget the compensation for personnel in the Coast Guard is derived. United States Code Title 14 dictates that the Coast Guard will be a branch of the military at all times. Because of its status as a military branch, even when it fell under the Department of Transportation, the pay and allowances have always been in lock-step with that of the Department of Defense.
Public Law 67-235, the "Joint Service Pay Readjustment Act of 1922", signed by President Harding on June 10, 1922, was the first pay legislation that dealt with compensation for all the Services. It increased the pay rates, and established that officers would be paid according to “pay periods.” The Act essentially created the first pay tables for officer and enlisted personnel in which pay was based on longevity, and not just pay grade.
Public Law 81-351, the "Career Compensation Act of 1949", signed by President Truman on the 12th of October 1949, was the first legislation that made reference to the primary element of Servicemembers' pay as “basic pay.” Basic pay was coupled with the two primary allowances “basic allowance for quarters” (BAQ) and “basic allowance for subsistence” (BAS).
Each year, Congress and the President has the ability to write and approve new legislation as they deem necessary to change military pay; otherwise, since 1967, Title 37 of the United States Code has dictated how military pay adjustments will be automatically calculated.
Currently, Title 37 reads, "An adjustment made under this section in a year shall provide all eligible members with an increase in the monthly basic pay that is the percentage (rounded to the nearest one-tenth of one percent) by which the Employment Cost Index for the base quarter of the year before the preceding year [three-month period ending on September 30 of such year] exceeds the ECI for the base quarter of the second year before the preceding calendar year (if at all)."
Latest page update was completed on May 7, 2015.