And the best paid feds live where?

When it comes to salaries, not all men — or women — who work for Uncle Sam are created equal, or at least treated so. Some are more equal than others.

Congress approved a 1.9 percent January federal pay raise after President Donald Trump proposed a pay freeze. But under the complex locality pay system 1.4 percent of the 2019 adjustment will go to all feds — except those at the top steps of the pay scale — with another 0.5 percent spread out among locality pay areas. Birmingham, Alabama; Burlington, Vermont; Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas; and Virginia Beach/Norfolk joined the locality lineup. Feds in cities outside of a locality pay area all live in the same place: The Rest of the U.S., or RUS, no matter how far apart they may be.

So where do feds get the relatively big relatively bucks? Many would guess Washington, D.C., and its metro area which is headquarters for all but a handful of federal agencies and departments. While D.C. has the most high-grade employees of any locality, where does it stand in the salary pecking order? If you want to get more pay for doing the same job at the same grade level, where would you go? New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Houston, Dallas, or Huntsville, Alabama?

The surprise answer is number two, the San Francisco-San Jose and metro area. In addition to having some of the highest living costs in the nation the area is home to a lot of companies paying high tech workers and executives really big bucks. As for Uncle Sam, feds at the GS-13 step 5 level are paid $119,380 per year, which is barely a living wage out there. That compares with New York City whose metro area includes parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. A GS-13 step 5 in the Big Apple area on the 2018 pay scale makes $113,251.

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So how about Texas, our second biggest state with plenty of room for pay diversity? Our GS-13 step 5 makes one thing in Dallas-Ft. Worth and $100,034 in Austin, which is $2,000 less than in Houston. Houston is the pay leader in the Lone Star state because it is headquarters for so many companies and corporations and a high-concentration of energy-industry related engineers. Think oil!

Our model GS-13 step 5 now gets $109,900, or about $10,000 per year less than he or she would be paid for the same job and grade level on the West Coast.

Those tables will change once the Office of Personnel Management issues the 2019 rates. Last time there was a 1.9 percent increase, feds in the Washington area got the largest increase, a total of 2.2 percent. But it’s still not the top pay town.

See how your home base compares to other federal centers here.

Nearly Useles Factoid

By Amelia Brust

A collection of the world’s largest scrap-metal sculptures can be found along 32 miles of I-94 in North Dakota, known as the Enchanted Highway. Between Regent and Gladstone along the road, drivers will see creations such as a giant grasshopper and prairie pheasants.

Source: Wikipedia

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