Military personnel enlist to save their country, but it’s not practical to ask them to do it for nothing. Good pay helps to attract the best people and also shows proper appreciation for the service the nation receives, so it’s important that it keeps up with the cost of living and allows for the unique circumstances of military life. Civilians sometimes wonder why soldiers can qualify for so many allowances on their basic pay, but that’s because they don’t really understand how different the job is. A service member’s salary compensates them for their day to day job, but they can be called out any time for an exercise, security duties or a short-notice deployment, and that often means extra costs for them and their families. Allowances are designed to cover that, to minimize the inconveniences that come with the territory.
On December 22, the Department of Defense released details of the 2015 military pay and compensation package, so now we know what’s going to be on the paychecks next year. As usual there are some good points and some not so good ones. The headline item, of course, is the rate of pay itself. This has focused on enlisted ranks and field grade officers, all of whom get a 1% increase over 2014. This isn’t all it could be; inflation right now is around 1.3%, which eats slightly into real earnings. The Federal Reserve also wants to push inflation slightly higher; their target is 2% and they’re considering keeping interest rates low to nudge it upwards. Cost of living is also rising faster than inflation, which is being kept artificially low by the oil price crash.
The news is even worse for general officers, who don’t get a pay increase at all for 2015.
The housing allowance also sees a below-inflation rise of 0.5 percent, averaging $17 per month. This isn’t as much of an issue, because the housing market is still quite weak and prices are rising slowly in most places. An online calculator lets you work out how much you should get.
Things look much better when it comes to subsistence allowance, where the increase is 2.9%. This allowance is linked to food prices, which are rising, so it helps to cover some of the increase in cost of living. The basic monthly allowance will now be $367.92 for enlisted ranks and $253.38 for officers. CONUS cost of living allowances are also being adjusted and around 7,000 home-based personnel will see no change or an increase; 12,000 unfortunately face a rate cut. The good news here is that the CONUS allowance is targeted by location, so those stationed in areas where prices are rising fastest will get the biggest increase. There’s an online calculator here.
So overall, next year’s compensation package sees military pay slip back a fraction against the cost of living, and certainly doesn’t increase real earnings. It is a small fraction though, so few people should be significantly worse off. It might not spark any celebrations across the services, but it looks like something everyone can live with.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.