Military news has been scattered with headlines about a recent study that came out about military pay. The study says the military used to get paid 50-60% equivalent to their civilian counterparts, now they are getting paid closer to 70% and higher.
Overall, the study was conducted from a human resources aspect and includes pay incentives, etc. It also went into how military recruiting aptitude did not improve, even as the pay scales did. So, let’s take a step back and look at this.
Both military and civilians get paid on based on the Employment Cost Index, reference found here. Now, it shows the average ECI was 100 points in 2005, whereas the average now is just over 130 points. By that logic, an increase by 30%. Looking at the annual military pay raise percentages, the military has also increased by approximately 30% (you can add it up with the chart we used, here.)
So, with inflation and all else involved, civilians and military are currently getting paid at approximately the same rate. Now, let’s look at the responsibilities, training, of each. Let’s take a mechanic for example.
A civilian mechanic may or may not go to school to learn the trade. They may go ahead and work at different shops, picking up experience as they go along. A mechanic usually starts at minimum wage, beginning with oil changes and basic shop hand tasks. Then, as they learn more, they do more, and ultimately get paid more.
Now, let’s assume someone joining the military as a mechanic has minimal experience in the field. They go off for training, learning how to be a rifleman first. Getting trained on completely different skill sets before they go off to technical school, where they learn the skill they will be primarily doing in the military. The mechanic learns his trade, all while starting at the bottom for pay, and also being a shop hand. However, mechanics just starting in the military, do more than just oil changes and shop hand work. They come out of a short technical school as higher level, but still have to appropriately move through the military ranks.
Let’s jump to the later years for both. A civilian mechanic may or may not go through technical training or specialized courses, depending on their shop requirements, how well they have been able to learn, etc. All circumstantial with quite a view variants. It may take over a decade for a mechanic to truly learn enough to run a shop as a secondary hand or become lead mechanic.
Meanwhile, the military mechanic is required to go through additional mechanic schooling, leadership courses, rifleman training, etc. to retain proficiency on all three. In a decade, a member of the military may rank as low as E-5 and could potentially get to E-6 or E-7, based on their circumstances. They are also in charge of multiple personnel, their well-being, training on the aforementioned tasks, and so forth.
Now, no one is saying civilian mechanics are in any way less important than military. You could put any number of job titles and descriptions in those paragraphs. The point is the responsibility and the dynamic the military member has in their job over a civilian that equates them to retain the amount of pay they get.
The study tries to say that military members, from a human resources standpoint, may not be ‘worth’ the full cost like a civilian employee. They also attempt to say this is because civilians have to pay for their housing and food costs, while military members get additional pay for that.
Honestly, we could go into paragraphs arguing about those facts too. The fact of the matter is- military members earn their pay and work hard, just like everyone else.
What do you think? Should pay rates slow down? Are military members getting paid too much on the pay scale of their civilian counterparts?
You can check out the report, here.