President Directs 1% Federal Pay Raise for 2016

President Obama has issued a letter directing an across-the-board pay raise of 1% for federal employees in 2016.

The annual process of determining federal pay for the next year has apparently come to an end, at least as far as the overall percentage that will be approved. President Obama issued a letter on August 28, 2015 approving alternative January 2016 across-the-board and locality pay adjustments. The full text of his letter is below the text of this article.

The letter notes:

“I am transmitting an alternative plan for pay increases for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems in January 2016….Specifically, I have determined that for 2016, across-the-board pay increases will be 1.0 percent.”

This will disappoint many readers who had been expecting an across-the-board pay raise of 1.3%. But, also according to the letter, it may not be that bad. It also noted that “the varying locality pay increases will be 1.3 percent of basic payroll…” That may mean that some federal employees may get the 1.3% or a little more than that but it may depend on the locality or if other locality pay areas are added.

The president added that “these decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce.”

What About Locality Pay?

The latest development also discusses the locality pay for 2016 but without revealing any specific amount:

“…I will make a decision by November 30, 2015, regarding an alternative plan for locality payments under 5 U.S.C. 5304a. The alternative plan for locality payments will be limited so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and the varying locality pay increases will be 1.3 percent of basic payroll, consistent with the assumption in my 2016 Budget.”

Presumably, the new locality pay areas will be included in the pay rates for 2016. Adding these new areas will have the effect of decreasing the amount of the pay raise in existing locality pay rates for reasons explained by the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year. As noted by OPM: “Implementing higher locality pay rates in the 13 new locality pay areas could … result in relatively lower pay increases for employees in existing locality pay areas than they would otherwise receive.” (emphasis added)

We will not know what the pay rates will be in locality pay areas until more information becomes available.

How Much Will Your Pay Increase in 2016?

This is the second year in a row that federal employees have received a 1% pay raise. There is little doubt federal employees (and their unions) strongly believe they have already done their “fair share” having had a general pay freeze that lasted for three years (2011 – 2013) and an across-the-board pay raise of 1% in 2014.

The pay tables for 2015 have not been released. Readers can find out the approximate amount of their pay in 2016 at To locate your approximate pay in 2016, just go to, enter your GS grade and step and your location. At the bottom of the page, you will see your pay rate for 2016.

Here is an example. In this case, the illustration displays the pay in 2015 for a federal employee at a grade of GS 11, Step 7 located in Huntsville, Alabama. The line at the bottom displays the amount of the increase with a 1% pay increase (and, for those readers who would enjoy the fantasy, the program also displays what the pay increase would have been with an increase at various other percentage levels).

2016 pay 1

As new information becomes available, we will advise our readers.

  2016 Pay Raise

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