As the usual scenario for determining next year’s pay raise for federal employees trudges along its usual route, it now appears there is a chance that the average pay raise for general schedule employees in 2009 may end up at 3.9%. A lot can happen between now and next January, particularly during an election year, so any prediction about the final approved rate is still a guess.
With the approval of the 3.9% rate by the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, and the 3.9% rate also likely to be approved for military personnel, a reasonable person could infer that 3.9% is likely to be the amount that eventually gets the nod of approval from Congress and the White House.
When the pay raise is finally implemented, we always get questions from readers along the lines of: "How come I didn’t get the 3.9% pay raise I was supposed to get?"
The answer is because of locality pay. Some federal employees will get quite a bit more than the 3.9% and others will get less. The 3.9% pay raise (or whatever amount is finally approved) is just an average figure. The reality is that there will be a base pay rate of something like 2.9% and a locality pay rate will be added on top of that. The Office of Personnel Management will make a determination about locality pay rates and their decisions will impact your final pay rate. Chances are that federal employees in large metropolitan areas like New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC will end up with a raise that is closer to 5%. Check out the article on "How Come I Didn’t Get the 3.5% Raise I was Supposed to Get" to see how the raise played out in 2008.
We have constructed a pay table that will allow readers to see what their 2009 pay may look like if the 3.9% gets approved. In addition, we have set the table up so that you can play around with it and see what your check may look like if the final amount approved is something other than 3.9%.
For example, if you believe that you would be making 20% more working for a private company than you currently receive as a federal employee, just type in your 20% estimate, select your geographic region, grade and step, and enjoy looking at the final pay rate if it will help to brighten your day. The table we have constructed will display your estimated 2009 pay raise with an average 3.9% annual increase, the 20% pay increase you wish you were getting, along with your 2008 annual pay rate.
Please keep in mind several major caveats. No one knows the final figure that will be approved by Congress and agreed to by the President. It could be considerably higher or lower than the 3.9% when all is said and done. Also, the locality pay figures have not been issued by OPM and, in fact, cannot be issued until the final pay rate figure is known. The decisions made by all of these institutions that will be made and implemented before your get your first paycheck in 2009 will impact the final pay figures.
In other words, please use our new table and have fun with it. Don’t spend the money from your next year’s pay raise. The final amount you receive is unknown as of this writing and may end up being considerably different when all is said and done. The new pay table will enable you to see how much of an impact the 3.9% pay raise could have on your paycheck next year.