Federal workers earning $150,000 or more make up 3.9 percent of the government workforce, up from 0.4 percent in 2005, according to analysis of Office of Personnel Management data by USA Today
. The percentages represent a tenfold increase in the past five years and have doubled since President Obama took office.
The analysis found, for example, that the Defense Department had nine civilians earning $170,000 or more in 2005, 214 when Obama took office and 994 in June.
The biggest pay increases have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years. Since 2005, average salaries for that group climbed 25 percent despite a 9 percent inflation rate.
Some lawmakers plan to challenge the president's plan to give a 1.4 percent across-the-board pay raise to 2.1 million federal workers. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who will head the panel overseeing federal pay, says he wants a pay freeze and prefers a 10 percent cut.
Colleen Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union called the proposed raise "modest" and said it is needed to help make government salaries more comparable with those in the private sector.