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Survey: Lower pay raise would hurt troops' morale more than finances

May. 29, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a Military Times survey believe that a proposal to give troops a smaller-than-expected pay raise next year would significantly harm morale.

The Defense Department wants to provide a 1 percent pay raise for fiscal 2015, which is less than the 1.8 percent growth projected for private-sector paychecks. As it now stands, the House version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act would give troops a 1.8 percent raise, but a Senate panel has voted to provide just the 1 percent.

Lawmakers are expected to settle the matter in conference committee.

A May 23-29 unscientific poll asked Military Times readers how they would be affected if troops received a 1 percent pay raise in 2015. Of the 4,346 people who responded as of Thursday, 72.3 percent said the lower pay raise would have a “major impact” on morale.

The results do not distinguish whether respondents are active-duty service members, veterans or military spouses. But the prospect of a lower pay raise appears to be more of an emotional concern than a financial one. About 38 percent of all respondents said the 1 percent pay raise would have a major impact on their finances.

Moreover, the 3,142 respondents who said the 1 percent pay raise would be a serious blow to morale are split evenly when it comes to whether the lower pay raise would harm their financial situation, with 52 percent saying it would have only a “minor impact” on their wallets.

One of the six people who commented online about the Military Times poll said the difference between the two pay raises is too slight to have that much of an effect on troops’ finances.

“Anyone who thinks that a 0.8 [percentage point] difference in pay is going to have a ‘major’ impact on their wallet should probably be rethinking how they spend money,” the commenter wrote.

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