The 1.4% military pay raise for 2011 proposed by President Obama is based on anticipated private sector raises for 2011. An alternative military pay raise, proposed by the House, calls for an across-the-board raise in base pay of 1.9%.
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2011 Military Pay Raise: Still Higher Than Civilian Pay?

Historically, the Senate has proposed a military pay raise which has passed with Congressional approval, for a higher-than-civilian pay increase for military service members. This has been the case for many consecutive years.

The 1.4% military pay raise for 2011 proposed by President Obama is based on anticipated private sector raises for 2011. An alternative military pay raise, proposed by the House, calls for an across-the-board raise in base pay of 1.9%.

UPDATE: Approved 2011 Military Pay Rates

O-1 to O-5  |  O-6 to O-10 | W-1 to W-5
E-1 to E-5  |  E-6 to E-9

The 1.4% military pay raise translates to a $32 increase per month for an E-4 service member with six years in the military, $41 increase for an E-5 with over 10 years of service. The 1.9% military pay raise would add another $11 or $14 respectively.

But even a 1.9% the pay raise represents the lowest pay increase since the start of the all-volunteer military in 1973.

Given America's tenuous economic situation and waning military budget, we can expect to see proposals for all military spending to undergo increased scrutiny.


Although the long-term cost of a military pay raise might be too high for the military budget to absorb, the costs of denying military service members an adequate raise to match private sector pay could have a negative impact on sustainability in salaries for military families.

Military base pay raises occur annually, and are based on anticipated private sector raises for each fiscal year. Trends have noted a widening gap between civilian paychecks and U.S. military wages, with inequality falling on military pay compared to civilian counterparts. But some argue that the military pay gap is overstated, when military benefits such as housing stipends are factored into the full extent of military pay.

Lawmakers and military officials have asserted that additional military pay raises are needed to sustain military service members and their families, especially through the sacrifices made during years of war placing additional strain on our already stressed military forces and military families.


The financial strain that war has placed on the U.S. military budget is growing. Defense officials estimate that the extra 0.5 percent military raise will cost the Department of Defense an additional $350 million in fiscal year 2011, and $3.5 billion over the next decade - not including increased military retirement pay, which will raise expenses even higher.

Some argue that lawmakers should not choose between defense spending and military salaries. One fiscal policy clearly affects the other, as individual military service members form the backbone of total U.S. military strength.

Although many observe that increased military salaries threaten to overwhelm the military budget, others argue that cutting military salaries decreases the incentive for recruitment of new soldiers, and for maintaining skilled soldiers.


In a proposal introduced to the Senate by James Hosek of the RAND National Security Research Division, a possible alternative to military pay raises that could ease tensions for military spending would be to introduce bonuses for military specialists, such as military doctors, in order to maintain skilled military servicemember specialties.

The minimum annual military pay raise is based on the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The ECI is the Department of Labor's tool for tracking changes in pay for state and government employees, as well as for most workers in the private sector. This keeps your military pay raise commensurate with trends in the overall economy.

Military basic pay is determined by years of active service and rank. Raises for longevity are based on your years of creditable service in any branch of the armed forces. Military pay raises are applicable only during active or inactive military service, and starting from the official date of your advancement. The military pay raise does not include the time that a military servicemember is in "frocked" status, or during a break in the time of active or inactive service.


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