Your New Salary: How Much Will You Make in 2010?

Why will the 2010 pay raise for some readers be less than 2%? Which geographic area will receive the biggest pay raise in 2010?

2010 is almost upon us and, for many readers, they want to know the answer to the question: “How much will I make next year?”

The federal pay saga has gone through its usual ups and downs this year. The final decision: a 1.5% increase in your basic pay and an 0.5% locality pay increase to be distributed so that some localities see a bigger increase than others. President Obama announced earlier in 2009 that he was asking federal employees to sacrifice and was recommending  a 2% average annual pay increase for federal employees. 

Federal employees have been receiving pretty good annual pay raises in recent years. For example, the average federal employee received a pay raise of 3.9% in 2009. Federal employees received an average pay increase of 3.5% in 2008, 2.7% in 2007 and 3.1% in 2006> and 4.1% back in 2004.

The president has now issued an executive order implementing the new pay raise. The big winner for 2009: federal employees working in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with a total pay increase of 2.42%.

Another big change for this year: Locality pay for Alaska and Hawaii.

The bad news for some people: There is a pay cap limited to Level IV of the Executive Schedule. That translates into $155,500. San Jose has the most annual salary categories capped at the $155,500 figure with 5. Houston, Los Angeles and New York all come in second with the most annual salary level categories capped (3).

Why is My 2010 Raise Less Than 2%?

Some readers have also inquired as to why their 2010 pay raise will be less than 2% when they have read they were getting a 2% increase.

Your 2010 pay increase is based, in large part, on an increase in your 2009 base pay rate. Your base pay rate is not the same as your entire pay since most readers get locality pay. Here are the base pay rates for 2009.

Your base pay is important because, in the bill passed by Congress, there is a section that reads:

“The adjustment in rates of basic pay for employees under the statutory pay systems that takes effect in fiscal year 2010 under section 5303 of title 5, United States Code, shall be an increase of 1.5 percent….” (emphasis supplied)

In effect, your basic pay will increase by 1.5% in 2010.

There is also an increase of 0.5% in locality pay. As noted in the bill:

“…an increase of 0.5% (with comparability payments to be determined and allocated among pay localities by the President).”

In other words, your final pay depends in part on your geographic area. So, if you are living in the “Rest of the U.S.,” or Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Milwaukee or a few other places, you will get less than a 2% total pay increase.

Those in larger cities will get more. San Diego will get 2.12%. The San Francisco area and New york City areas will go up 2.11%. Boston will get 2.17%. And, as noted above, those in the DC area will get 2.43%.

The comment by some readers that they will getting less than a 2% pay increase next year is correct. This is because 1.5% of your basic pay will come out to less than 1.5% of your current total pay package. Those that get a higher amount in locality pay will get an overall pay increase of more than 2%. Those that get a smaller amount will get less than 2%.

As usual, the federal pay system is as clear as mud. We hope you find the pay calculator to be useful. And, in addition, we hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Executive Order — Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the laws cited herein, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Statutory Pay Systems. The rates of basic pay or salaries of the statutory pay systems (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 5302(1)), as adjusted under 5 U.S.C. 5303 and section 744 of Division C of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law 111-117, December 16, 2009), are set forth on the schedules attached hereto and made a part hereof:

(a) The General Schedule (5 U.S.C. 5332(a)) at Schedule 1;
(b) The Foreign Service Schedule (22 U.S.C. 3963) at Schedule 2; and
(c) The schedules for the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (38 U.S.C. 7306, 7404; section 301(a) of Public Law 102–40) at Schedule 3.

Sec. 2. Senior Executive Service. The ranges of rates of basic pay for senior executives in the Senior Executive Service, as established pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5382, are set forth on Schedule 4 attached hereto and made a part hereof.

Sec. 3. Certain Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries. The rates of basic pay or salaries for the following offices and positions are set forth on the schedules attached hereto and made a part hereof:

(a) The Executive Schedule (5 U.S.C. 5312–5318) at Schedule 5;
(b) The Vice President (3 U.S.C. 104) and the Congress (2 U.S.C. 31) at Schedule 6; and
(c) Justices and judges (28 U.S.C. 5, 44(d), 135, 252, and 461(a), and section 140 of Public Law 97–92) at Schedule 7.

Sec. 4. Uniformed Services. The rates of monthly basic pay (37 U.S.C. 203(a)) for members of the uniformed services, as adjusted under 37 U.S.C. 1009, and section 601 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84, October 28, 2009), and the rate of monthly cadet or midshipman pay (37 U.S.C. 203(c)) are set forth on Schedule 8 attached hereto and made a part hereof.

Sec. 5. Locality-Based Comparability Payments.

(a) Pursuant to section 5304 of title 5, United States Code, and section 744 of Division C of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law 111-117, December 16, 2009), locality-based comparability payments shall be paid in accordance with Schedule 9 attached hereto and made a part hereof.
(b) The Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall take such actions as may be necessary to implement these payments and to publish appropriate notice of such payments in the Federal Register.

Sec. 6. Administrative Law Judges. The rates of basic pay for administrative law judges, as adjusted under 5 U.S.C. 5372(b)(4), are set forth on Schedule 10 attached hereto and made a part hereof.

Sec. 7. Effective Dates. Schedule 8 is effective January 1, 2010. The other schedules contained herein are effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2010.

Sec. 8. Prior Order Superseded. Executive Order 13483 of December 18, 2008, is superseded.


December 23, 2009.

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