Want the big bucks? Go west or east but just get outta Dodge (City)

Do you like your job and your agency’s mission but you’d like more money? If the answer is yes, then get out of dodge and request a lateral transfer to San Francisco-San Jose, or the New York City metro area — even the swamp of Washington, D.C., if you think you can handle it.

Thanks to the locality factor in the 2019 federal pay raise the salary gap continues to grow. Friends of feds say that in many cases government workers doing same jobs as their hometown private sector counterparts frequently are paid 25 to 30 percent less. Using a yardstick, critics of the government contend that many civil servants are paid 25 to 30 percent more than they’d get in the private sector.

The argument will never end because each side has a point to prove. Given the fact that Uncle Sam doesn’t do retail, mostly a highly professional and administrative operation, folks who contend feds are underpaid are probably closer to the truth.

But even within the government itself pay rates vary widely, city by city and agency by agency.


Consider what you will make when the new pay scales kick in. The president signed an executive order authorizing them on March 28 even though he tried to freeze salaries. If you are a GS-11, step 5 your new salary in Austin, Texas, will be $71,628. Somebody at the same job, grade and in-grade step in metro Cincinnati will be getting $73,306.

Feds on the West Coast benefit from the locality differential, which is based on comparing federal pay with similar jobs in the same metro area. The highest paid civil servants in the nation are in the San Francisco-San Jose area where they need every penny to get by. A GS-11 step 5 there will get $85,587. The same person in the same grade and in Los Angeles-Long Beach will make $80,141. In Seattle the job will pay $76,860.

Moving East the top dollar feds work in the metro New York City area which takes in several states. A GS-11 step 5 in the Big Apple will earn $81,141 this year. In Philadelphia the same person would get $76,409, or $72,799 in the Washington-Baltimore pay zone. It’s less than Philadelphia but more than Austin.

Whatever you do, unless you like the people, weather and way of life, get out of Dodge City, Kansas, or other cities in the RUS (rest-of-the-U.S. locality zone), where the best a GS-11 step 5 can do is $70,537. That’s $15,000 less than they could get in San Francisco, assuming they found affordable housing, parking and food. Nevermind!

Check the Office of Personnel Management to see where your city ranks in the federal pay ladder.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Vespa means “wasp” in Italian, and the scooter brand was so named in 1944 when Enrico Piaggo, the company owner’s son, exclaimed that the MP6 prototype scooter looked like a wasp when he first saw it.

Source: Wikipedia

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