Which Feds Get the Biggest Pay Raise?

Federal employees in San Francisco will end up with the biggest federal pay raise in 2004. Those in Kansas City with the smallest.

Several readers wrote in last week with variations on this question: “The federal pay raise is supposed to be 4.1%. I got less than 4.1%? How come?”

Some readers see a conspiracy at work and blamed the Bush administration for trying to keep federal employees from getting the full 4.1% raise.

The federal pay system is nothing if not complex. But we don’t think the amount of money you end up with has much to do with a political conspiracy. In reality, you may have gotten more or less than 4.1%. It all depends on where you live.

For example, federal employees in San Francisco will get a raise of more than 5%. The locality payment in San Francisco is almost 25%. This means that a GS 9, step 1 will receive $45,309 in San Francisco.

On the other hand, if you live in Kansas City, you will get a raise of less than 4% in 2004. The locality payment in Kansas City is 11.54%. A GS 9, step 1 will get paid $40,688 in 2004 if he happens to be living in Kansas City.

The reason is that all federal employees get a base pay raise of 2.7% in 2004. The overall national average for the pay raise comes out to 4.1% so some people get more (or less) than others. Those in the areas with the highest cost of living get the higher raise.

Federal employees in San Francisco got the biggest raise of all. Those in Kansas City got the lowest raise. The large mass of federal employees in the Washington-Baltimore area will end up with 4.42%.

So, if you happen to live in Kansas City, you may envy the extra money your counterparts on the West Coast may be getting. But look at the bright side: It’s not a conspiracy, your taxes are probably lower and the traffic where you live is probably not as bad during your commute.

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 on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47