From the Beltway to the RUSbelt

Is there a center of the universe and, if so, just where is it?

People in New York City think they are it. Folks in Boston, San Francisco and Minneapolis (but not St. Paul) believe that if life was fair they would be it. For people in Los Angeles the response is “would you repeat the question?” Meantime, those of us in smug D.C., know deep in our almost nonexistent hearts, we are in fact it!

So there.

But many reputable scientists contend there is life, human life, Beyond the Beltway, west of the Brooklyn Bridge and east of the La Brea Tar Pits. They say millions of people live, work, make tools, keep flocks and raise families in the Dakotas, parts of Texas, in Missouri, Utah, Idaho and other huge parts of these United States.

We, who believe we are it, learn about these outsiders from time to time when one makes it big on Broadway or in the movies or sports, or gets elected to Congress.

For pay and leave purposes the federal government calls the vast Beyond The Beltway region “RUS.” RUS stands for rest-of-U.S. It is one 30 plus special locality pay areas where pay raises vary. If you looked at the most recent federal pay raise (3.5 percent before locality pay was factored in) you will see that the Washington area, for once, came out on top with a 4.49 percent raise. Folks elsewhere got less. Feds in Cincinnati (2.84 percent) and Indianapolis (2.96 percent) got the least. Those in the giant RUSbelt got 2.99 percent.

Every time there is a federal pay raise, folks who bring up the rear wonder what happened. The official answer is that raises are based not on the local cost of living but on the local cost of labor. That is the going rate for the private sector vs. comparable jobs in the federal service in those areas. That’s fine, but it doesn’t help much, especially in the RUSbelt.

Here’s a statement and a question from a RUSbelt fed in North Dakota:

CAN YOU EXPLAIN why RUS receives at 2.99% raise when the president sign(ed) a bill stating that the raise would be 3.5%? What seems strange is that the reasons given for the other cities getting bigger raises is that their cost of living is higher than the rest of the country. Housing may be slightly less than in some of the bigger cities, but not by much, but everything else costs more, e.g. food, fuel, utilities, medical. I drive 150 miles a day to go to work, so the cost of fuel is between $150 and $200 a week and I try to make it on my salary. I don’t get the subsidy that D.C gets for transportation, my electrical bill cost me over $100 a month and that’s in a good month, we are on a coop utility company. I pay over $50 per month for water, and that the minimum cost. And after all the “perks”, health insurance, Medicare, and other insurance, are taken out of my check, I bring home about 48% of my check and then try to pay for mortgage, medical bills and general living and try to put money into savings. When will the people in D.C wake up and see that it cost just as much if not more to live in the rest of the US as it does to live in the “big cities”. Robin in ND

You are here.

The Nearly Useless Factoid

Every US president has worn glasses. (Sometimes not in public.)

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