Pay Raise Pecking Order

After years of trailing cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and even Buffalo and Raleigh-Durham, federal workers in the Washington-Baltimore area have won the annual federal pay raise derby.

This year, most of the 300,000 plus white collar workers in the national capital region will be getting a 4.49 percent pay raise. That tops the 3.65 percent feds will get in Chicago, the 3.97 percent okayed for metro New York City and even edges out San Francisco which gets a 4.23 percent raise. We tipped you earlier about the numbers which are now signed, sealed and delivered.

The raise is effective with the first pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2008. That means that feds who retired in late December-early January with carry over annual leave will be paid for most of that leave at the new, higher 2008 rate for their grade. In the case of high-paid workers with lots of annual leave that will be thousands of extra dollars in their lump sum payment.

As per usual, the pay raise took a year to hatch, even though the outcome was predictable from day one. Since FEPCA (the federal employees pay comparability act) was adopted, presidents have ignored it. FEPCA was supposed to produce a series of national-locality raises each January that would gradually narrow or close the “pay gap” with the private sector on a city by city basis.

But President Bill Clinton said the pay comparisons were “flawed” because they did not measure the value of federal fringe benefits (sick leave, holidays, vacation, retirement and lifetime insurance) against the fringe packages in the private sector. In his first year he recommended a zero percent pay raise. Congress overrode him and that set the pattern each year since. Both Presidents Clinton and Bush recommended lesser raises than called for by the FEPCA formula and Congress, except for one year, overrode it each time. That’s what happened last month with the last minute approval of a higher raise.

For the official OPM explanation of how the raises will work, click here.

For a look at the pay raises on a city-by-city basis, click here.

Other Pay Systems

  • Executive Schedule: The new rates for the Executive Schedule are $139,600 for Level Five, $149,000, $158,500, $172,200 for levels 4 through 2 and $191,300 for Level One.
  • ALJs: The new rates for administrative law judges will be $99,500, $107,000, $114,800, $122,400, $130,100 and $137,600.
  • Senior Executive Service: For agencies with a certified SES performance appraisal system in place, the new minimum-maximum pay will be $114,468 to $172,200. For those without a certified plan, the minimum-maximum will be $114,468 to $158,500.
  • Senior Level/Scientific Rates: They will get a minimum 2.5 percent raise. That means the new range is $114,468 to $149,000.

Today’s Nearly Useless Factoid

From Ripley’s Believe it or Not comes this strange safety campaign: The workmen in Ardeer, Scotland, who supervised the machinery in the first British nitroglycerine factory, were prevented from dozing on the job by having to sit on a one legged stool. This was the only major dynamite factory in the world that never had a serious accident.

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