2023 Military Pay Raise: Military Members Receive a 4.6% Increase

Updated: December 27, 2022

United States military members will see their largest-ever pay increase in 2023 – a 4.6% hike, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index (ECI) and the 2023 defense budget.

President Biden signed off on the 2023 defense budget, approving the 4.6% bump.

Basic pay is the largest component of military service members’ cash compensation. Non-taxable allowances for housing and food make up the remainder.

See 2024 military pay rates and charts here.

How the 2023 Military Basic Pay Raise is Calculated

The ECI heavily influences final enacted increases to military basic pay.

Federal law (Title 37 USC chapter 19, section 1009) has tied military pay increases to ECI since 2003. Deviations from the ECI require Congressional or Presidential intervention, which last occurred in 2016.

Final military pay increases are subject to change based on negotiations between Congress and the White House and the subsequent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

As of Dec. 15, congress voted to approve the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2023. The bill is awaiting President Biden’s signature.

2023 Military Pay Increase Timeline:

  • Winter/Spring 2022: DOD will release its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal
  • Spring/Summer 2022: – Congressional  Appropriations Committees evaluate the defense budget.
  • Fall/Winter 2022: – Congress agrees upon a budget and passes it.
  • Fall/Winter 2022 – The President signs the defense budget into law. 

By law, Congress must present a budget for the president to sign before the Oct. 1 start of each fiscal year, but has frequently missed the deadline in recent years. When that happens, Congress passes a continuing resolution to keep the military operating under the previous year’s budget while debate continues.

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About the Economic Cost Index (ECI)

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is a quarterly economic series that details total employee compensation growth across the United States.

A unit of the United States Department of Labor called the Bureau of Labor Statistics creates the index by surveying employer payrolls each quarter. The surveys measure the change in the cost of labor, free from the influence of employment shifts among occupations and industries.

ECI measures annual and quarterly percentage increases for three different populations — “private industry workers,” “state and local government workers” and a combination of those two called “civilian workers.”

ECI differs from the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W), which determines pay increases for social security, retired military members, and VA benefits recipients via Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). CPI-W is tied to inflation.

Historical Military Pay Raises by Year

YearMilitary Pay RaiseYearMilitary Pay Raise
2007 *2.7%19765.%
2004 *4.2%19736.7%
2003 *4.7%19727.2%
2002 *6.9%19717.9%
19962.4%1965E: 11% O: 6%
19952.6%19642.5% - 8.5%

* 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007 are average percentage raises, as military pay raises differed by pay grade at the time.

2023 military pay increases are for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Space Force and Reserve forces where applicable.

Written by Brittany Crocker

Brittany Crocker served as Veteran.com’s managing editor from May 2021 to December 2022 and launched the publication’s veteran review board. She is a veteran with over 11 years of military service and equal time working in civilian journalism and media. Crocker received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and was a 2016-2017 White House Press Correspondents Association scholar. During her early journalism career, Crocker worked to expose organized crime, hate groups and deadly regulatory oversights in the childcare, aviation and tourism industries. Her award-winning columns, narrative features and investigations have spanned multiple coverage areas and influenced life-saving policy changes.