Why Are the 2008 Salary Adjustments So Unfair?

By on October 19, 2007 in Current Events with 0 Comments

Yesterday’s article on the 2008 pay rates generated a number of questions from readers.

Probably the most common question (or expression of outrage) concerned the amount of money that will be in the new raise for some locality pay areas. After using the new pay tables to see how much money a reader would be receiving in 2008 (depending on what happens in Congress), some readers unleased their anger. Generally, the comment boiled down to something along these lines:

"How come federal employees (in my city) are being short-changed? Why do employees in (some other city) get more money than I will be getting? How did you ever come up with these figures that are so unfair to employees (in my city)."

To correct any misperceptions that some readers may have, FedSmith does not have anything to do with decisions on the federal pay rates. We just report on what the pay rates will be based on decisons made by Congress, the President and the salary experts within the Office of Personnel Management.

The locality pay figures used to calculate the federal pay rates are provided by the Office of Personnel Management. For more information on the Federal Salary Council, just click here.

As to the argument as to what is fair or not, we are not going to wade into that swamp. If you think the federal pay system is unfair, please write to your Congressman. In other words, don’t shoot the messenger. We are reporting the results of the process that creates the federal pay for 2008.

The FedSmith pay tables are programmed to incorporate the locality pay figures kindly provided by OPM. The percentages for each locality pay area are reprinted below. Our webmaster took these figures and incororated a mathematical formula into our programming for the site to determine what the 2008 pay rate will be for each GS grade and step for each pay area.

In effect, the pay tables do the math for you. Most people want to see how much they will get next year in their city if a 3% raise is approved or if a 3.5% raise is approved. Many readers also compare their salary to that of their colleagues in other cities. That comparison is often what leads to the howls of outrage when someone reads that a person in another city with the same pay grade is making more money.

For those who are interested in knowing the percentages for each locality area, here are the 2008 general schedule pay adjustments. As we noted in the article and as we note on the pay tables, a final decision has not been made on the 2008 pay raise. When final approval is given, there could be a change to these figures.


2008 Local Pay Adjustments Assuming a 3% or 3.5% Pay Raise


Atlanta 3.12 3.75
Boston 3.15 3.80
Buffalo 3.05 3.60
Chicago 3.07 3.65
Cincinnati 2.67 2.84
Cleveland 3.00 3.52
Columbus 2.86 3.21
Dallas 3.11 3.72
Dayton 2.94 3.39
Denver 2.93 3.36
Detroit 2.92 3.34
Hartford 3.14 3.78
Houston 2.80 3.10
Huntsville 2.79 3.07
Indianapolis 2.73 2.96
Los Angeles 3.00 3.52
Miami 2.85 3.20
Milwaukee 3.02 3.56
Minneapolis 3.05 3.59
New York City 3.23 3.97
Philadelphia 3.05 3.61
Phoenix 3.19 3.88
Pittsburgh 2.84 3.19
Portland, OR 2.97 3.45
Raleigh 2.78 3.06
Rest of US 2.75 2.99
Richmond 2.94 3.39
Sacramento 3.04 3.59
San Diego 3.21 3.91
San Francisco 3.37 4.23
Seattle 3.00 3.51
Washington, DC 3.49 4.49


Other readers wanted to know why their hourly pay rate was different than the display on our pay tables. In response to the queries, we have changed the tables to use 2087 hours instead of 2080.

Other readers questioned the accuracy of the pay tables because of the amount that is displayed for higher graded employees. As we note on the pay tables, "Some higher pay grades will have a pay cap." Our goal was to provide useful information for our readers as quickly as possible on a topic of interest to a number of readers. It is our intent to provide more detailed information on the pay tables after the final decision is made on the 2008 pay raise.

We hope that readers of the FedSmith site will find the new tables easy to use and helpful in their planning for next year. For more information on the structure and location of locality pay areas, check out the OPM website.


© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters onĀ federal human resources.