Executive Order Issued on 2009 Pay Increase: Where Are the Biggest Winners Located?

The President has signed an Executive Order implementing the 2009 federal pay increase. Here is a chart that shows the amount of the pay increase by locality pay area.

Not that there was any doubt but it is always reassuring to know that a pay increase has become official–meaning the President has issued an Executive Order telling the world that it is approved.  President Bush has now issued an Executive Order giving federal employees an across-the-board increase of 2.9% for 2009. Locality pay increases add an average of 1% for GS employees meaning that the average pay raise this year will be 3.9%.

To elaborate and in anticipation of the most popular question we receive on this subject, the average pay increase is 3.9%. This does in fact mean that not everyone will get the 3.9%. Some areas of the country will get less, and some more. The base pay increase is 2.9%–not 3.9%.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a memo to agencies detailing the pay changes for 2009. OPM has also posted the pay tables that incorporate all of the locality pay changes for next year.

The new pay rates become effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or afterJanuary 1, 2009(January 4, 2009).

Biggest Winners

So, where are the biggest pay increase for federal GS employees in 2009?

The winner is the Washington, DC metropolitan area which includes Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA. The rate of increase there will be 4.78%. That puts the Washington area at a locality pay differential of 23.10% which is still lower than the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA area which has a locality rate of 34.35%. The rate of increase for this year though in the San Francisco area is 4.31% which puts federal employees in that area at a lower rate of increase than in Washington.

The 2009 locality rate replaces the 2008 rate. It is not paid in addition to or on top of the 2008 locality rate

The median federal employee salary in the Washington, DC metropolitan area next year will now come in at about $95,000. Last year it was $90,698.

Rest of the U.S.

Employees who are in the “rest of the United States” (which means not in a locality pay area), will get a raise of 3.52%. That is the same rate of increase as the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina locality pay area and more than the 3.35% in the locality pay area of Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN.

Private Sector Salary Increases

While some readers will not be happy with whatever their salary increase is for 2009, this might make you feel better. Thanks in large part to the hit companies are taking from the current financial crisis, millions of U.S. workers will find their 2009 pay raises are less than 3% because of the economic recession.

2009 Pay Increase for Federal GS Employees
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, GA-AL 4.00% Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 3.85%
Boston-Worcester-Manchester, MA-NH-RI-ME 4.13% Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha, WI 3.71%
Buffalo-Niagara-Cattaraugus, NY 3.81% Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud, MN-WI 3.70%
Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, IL-IN-WI 3.99% New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA 4.20%
Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN 3.35% Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, PA-NJ-DE-MD 3.85%
Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH 3.82% Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4.10%
Columbus-Marion-Chillicothe, OH 3.63% Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA 3.73%
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 3.95% Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 3.76%
Dayton-Springfield-Greenville, OH 3.47% Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC 3.39%
Denver-Aurora-Boulder, CO 3.75% Richmond, VA 3.52%
Detroit-Warren-Flint, MI 3.76% Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA-NV 4.00%
Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic, CT-MA 3.82% San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 4.11%
Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX 3.62% San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA 4.31%
Huntsville-Decatur, AL 4.01% Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia, WA 4.03%
Indianapolis-Anderson-Columbus, IN 3.55% Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA 4.78%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA 3.93% Rest of U.S. 3.52%

And, according to OPM, the highest-paid GS employees — which are those at GS-15 Step 10 in the higher-paying localities — will see their pay capped at $153,200. That is the pay rate for Level IV of the Executive Schedule. That is an increase from the previous cap of $149,000.

The salaries for Senior Executive Service members in certified performance-based pay systems will increase from $172,200 to $177,000, while the minimum will increase from $114,468 to $117,787. For SES members outside of certified systems, the maximum salary will go from $158,500 to $162,900.

Executive schedule pay will from $139,600 to $143,500 at Level V, the lowest level, and from $191,300 to $196,700 at Level I, the highest level.

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