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Charlotte Area

Salary Freeze Would Chill Pay For Thousands In Charlotte

http://66.225.205.104/JR20101129a.mp3

President Obama has proposed freezing salaries for federal workers over the next two years as a way of trimming the deficit. The move would affect about 4,000 people in the Charlotte region. The salary freeze wouldn't apply to members of the military or postal workers and they're the majority of federal employees in the greater Charlotte area. That leaves about 4,000 civilian U.S. government workers who would miss out on cost of living increases and merit bonuses under the president's proposal. Together those workers make about $220 million a year. Jeffrey Zients of the White House Office of Management said in a conference call with reporters the decision to freeze pay was a tough one. "Federal employees are hard working and dedicated and central to delivering services to the American people," says Zients. "Today we're asking them to make a sacrifice." Last year, Zients says federal civilian workers got a 2 percent cost of living increase. Forgoing a similar increase next year would amount to about $4.5 million in lost wages for Charlotte area federal government employees. But Zients says the Obama Administration is confident the salary freeze will not dampen economic recovery on a local level because "it's a relatively small piece of those economies." The White House says about two million employees would be affected by the salary freeze nationwide, for a savings of $28 billion over the next five years. Before the freeze takes effect, Congress will have to approve it.