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Federal Employee Salaries in Washington, DC Are Higher–Here is How Much Higher

by Ralph Smith |

In reading current articles on federal pay, a number of readers commented that it would be more meaningful to them to see how the pay distribution looks in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Articles on pay and benefits are, by far, the most widely read articles on our site. The only exceptions are the occasional articles topics such as an extra holiday at Christmas being granted by the president.

We try to provide articles on topics that are of interest to our readers when we can do so. In response to those who have commented with a suggestion that we "stop beating a dead horse" (or something similar), this is the rationale behind the articles on federal salaries.

Their theory underlying the request for more information on salaries in Washington, DC, apparently, is that most of the higher salaried federal employees are in Washington while federal workers in the rest of the country are paid considerably less.

In effect, the average federal employee’s salary is made higher by the highly paid DC feds. In a typical comment, one reader who described himself as "computer expert" from DoD wrote: "DC and VA probably account for 90 percent of those higher grades/salaries." There is at least some basis for this contention as the average federal employee in Washington makes around $95,000 (not including benefits) to about $79,000 for federal employees nationwide. (See Executive Order Issued on 2009 Pay Increase: Where Are the Biggest Winners Located?)

The figures in the charts below are from the Office of Personnel Management as of March 2009.

Here are the statistics for the 153,348 federal employees in the District of Columbia depicted in a chart that displays the number of federal employees in various pay ranges. Each column represents a range of $10,000. So, for example, the number $20,000 includes all GS employees who make from $20,000 – $29,999.


You can compare this chart to the distribution of federal salaries in the federal workforce (including DC): 


Finally, some readers wanted to see the pay range for the State of Virginia as well, apparently because Northern Virginia is part of the Washington metropolitan area and very similar to downtown Washington. Here are the figures for federal salaries in Virginia where there are approximately 134,000 federal employees:


For those who are so inclined, you can compare this to the pay distribution for the entire workforce in the article

Federal Employees and Their Pay: How They Stack Up



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About the Author

Photo of Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith

Ralph Smith is one of the founders of FedSmith.com. He writes in a blunt, entertaining style with a viewpoint that reflects an in-depth knowledge of federal HR issues.

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