Not getting a COLA one year is rare. Not getting a COLA two years in a row is unprecedented under the current inflation-catch-up-system.
Two years without a COLA is the bad news.
The good news for retirees is that monthly benefit checks they get are not reduced during times of deflation. That should mean that while prices for many goods and services (as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) are down from their levels in 2009 and 2008, the retirees income has remained stable.
Increases for retirees are based on the increase (if any) in the Consumer Price Index over a 12-month period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI-W for June was 0.8 percent below the average for the third quarter this time last year. Bottom line: Prices would have to jump big time between now and September to trigger a COLA for retirees.
For an explanation of the CPI numbers, click here.
2011 Pay Raise
Federal workers are in line for a 1.4 percent increase in January. The White House proposed the same amount for both feds and members of the uniformed military.
Pay raises are based on salary changes in the private sector (not cost of living) as well as political and fiscal considerations. While the 1.4 percent proposed for next year is one of the smallest ever, it is 1.4 percent more than retirees (and many private sector workers) will be getting in January.
There have been several votes in Congress seeking to freeze white collar federal pay raises in 2011. While they’ve been defeated, lobbyists representing feds say the razor-thin margins of victory are not very comforting. They are expecting at least one more pay freeze attempt before Congress hits the campaign trail.
Many retirees point to higher health insurance premiums last year, this year and next year. Some “experts” are predicting a double-digit premium jump next January. The actual premiums for the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will be announced this fall. After that workers, retirees and dependents will have an open season, mid November through early December, when they can pick their 2011 plan.
The best selling school lunchbox of all time was Disney’s Dome-Top School Bus.
ADDITIONAL PAY AND BENEFITS NEWS ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO NFEE wants GSA to change social media policy The fight continues over the use of social media tools at the Government Services Administration. The National Federation of Federal Employees calls the agency’s social media directive a blast to free speech. Talks between the two groups dissolved last Friday after failing to reach agreement. A federal mediator will be brought in to help referee future meetings. Charles Paidock is the vice president of NFFE at GSA National Council, and says his organization is not opposed to social media, but has problems with parts of GSA’s policy. Read more here.
ALSO ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO Thursday Morning Federal Newscast Among the stories we’re following this morning: Congress cuts VA’s IT budget, Senate gives thumbs down to DHS bottom up review, AT&T wins $350 million USDA Networx contract. Read more here.
New code could help agencies get to the point It wasn’t exactly your typical party, but earlier this year a bunch of coders got together and tried to make government better. Silona Bonewald is the founder of the League of Technical Voters and the organizer of the Codeathon — an event that brought programmers and designers together with the goal of building free, open software. The Codeathon took place this past April 9-11 and involved the concept of citability, which, Bonewald explains, aims to make documents easier to reference online. Read more here.
Dorobek Must Reads – July 21 Worried you’ll have no idea what people are talking about around the watercooler this morning? Each day, the DorobekInsider team collects a group of stories that we’re reading to stay in the know. On Wednesday, we continue to look at the Washington Post’s special series, Top Secret America. Read more here.