> if you have held the same job classification since
> 1994, is it reasonable to expect a rise in real wages?
I wasn't complaining about a lack of rise in real wage so much as a demonstration that annual COLAs may not keep up with inflation.
> When you say "same job classification" I interpret
> that as meaning that you are doing basically the same
> thing now as you were doing in 1994, with no increase
> in responsibility, value to the organization, etc.
Government work has job classifications. One can take on additional responsibility (or be assigned additional responsibility even if one wasn't seeking it) and have different job duties without changing job classifications. In a bureaucracy, one's value to the organization increases just by knowing what the hell it is that everyone is supposed to be doing... newcomers do not understand the scope of what is going on and often do more damage by attempting organizational changes before they understand what they're tampering with.
My local government has 30+ bureaus, each of which are like independent companies with completely different missions. Sometimes the missions are exactly opposite (e.g. one bureau provides assistance to developers to keep urban decay at bay, but another bureau is responsible for finding affordable housing for those that are displaced by development).
Even within bureaus, there can be a conflict. The water bureau has to make money to provide better/expanded service, but it also has to promote conservation, which can hurt the profits.
> I would only expect to get an increase in my real
> wage if I had also increased in value to the
> organization, i.e., by taking another step up their
> career ladder
Careful with that line of thought... someone might think you believe that everyone who moves up the career ladder are actually worth more. Usually a step or two up the career ladder just means that they've changed organizations.