The Pentagon plans to cap pay raises for active-duty military personnel at 1 percent next year instead of granting a 1.8 percent increase allowed under Labor Department standards.
"Given the current budget environment, this pay raise is less than previously projected but allows the Department (of Defense) to maintain critical investments in readiness and modernization going forward," Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement Wednesday about the forthcoming 2014 defense budget request to Congress.
The decision will affect more than 15,700 active-duty, reserve and National Guard personnel in Nevada, but the extent of the impact remains to be seen, according to sources in the Guard and Army Reserve.
"That clearly doesn't keep pace with the cost of living," said Nevada National Guard spokeswoman April Conway, an Air Force major.
She noted that pay "traditionally hasn't been one of the reasons why people stay or go in the Guard, although "time will tell" whether recruiting and troop retention hold at current levels.
Lt. Col. Matt Lawrence, the Army Reserve's chief spokesman in Fort Bragg, N.C., doesn't think the smaller raise "will affect morale much. It's only a few dollars difference in their paychecks each month."
"Nobody's losing money this year," he said.
Lawrence noted basic pay for the military from 2000 to 2013 has increased on average more than 63 percent, compared with 42 percent for federal civilian employees and 47 percent for private sector workers.
Military pay increases were 6.2 percent in 2000 and 6.9 percent in 2002, when average raises in the private sector were 4.3 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.
Basic monthly pay for the Army's lowest ranking private is $1,516, according to Military Benefits, a nongovernment website.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308.