Although Washington is the headquarters for most federal operations, it no longer is the place to be for career employees looking at what is in their paycheck, and what they will someday get as a pension.

Starting this month, white-collar government workers in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco will be paid 8 percent more than their counterparts here. Their higher pay scales will also boost pensions, which are based on length of service and their highest three-year average salary. Their higher salaries will also allow them to invest more in their tax-deferred thrift savings plan accounts.

Because of the special geographic adjustment for U.S. workers in those three high-cost areas, a contracting specialist in the first step of Grade 11 in New York City will receive $33,605 per year, compared with $31,116 for a counterpart in Washington (or Dallas, or Norfolk).

A GS 9 mathematician or vocational technical instructor here, or in Louisville, or Salt Lake City, will be paid $25,717, while someone doing the same job in San Francisco will start at $27,774.

A GS 5 supply technician or building management specialist here or in Oklahoma City or Sacramento with several years' experience will make $18,671, while that same employee in Los Angeles would get $20,165 in the fourth step of the same grade.

Those higher pay rates were authorized by the president on top of the regular 4.1 percent pay raise that went to all white-collar workers regardless of where they live. They will be considered as base pay, meaning higher pensions and life insurance benefits for workers in the special pay cities.

Area politicians will push bills to raise pay here. But the best chance probably will be to persuade the White House that federal workers here deserve geographic pay differentials, too.

Here's a look at the new federal pay scales reflecting the 4.1 percent pay raise here, and the effect of that raise, plus the new 8 percent differential for the other cities:

Washington/Baltimore

GS 1, $11,015 to $13,776; GS 2, $12,385 to $15,590; GS 3, $13,515 to $17,574; GS 4, $15,171 to $19,725; GS 5, $16,973 to $22,067; GS 6, $18,919 to $24,598; GS 7, $21,023 to $27,332; GS 8, $23,284 to $30,268; GS 9, $25,717 to $33,430; GS 10, $28,322 to $36,818; GS 11, $31,116 to $40,449; GS 12, $37,294 to $48,481; GS 13, $44,348 to $57,650; GS 14, $52,406 to $68,129; GS 15, $61,643 to $80,138; GS 16, $72,298 to $89,787; GS 17, $83,032 to $94,104; GS 18, $97,317.

New York/L.A./San Francisco

GS 1, $11,896 to $14,878; GS 2, $13,376 to $16,837; GS 3, $14,596 to $18,900; GS 4, $16,385 to $21,303; GS 5, $18,331 to 23,832; GS 6, $20,433 to $26,566; GS 7, $22,705 to $29,519; GS 8, $25,147 to $32,689; GS 9, $27,774 to $36,104; GS 10, $30,588 to $39,763; GS 11, $33,605 to $43,685; GS 12, $40,278 to $52,359; GS 13, $47,896 to $62,262; GS 14, $56,598 to $73,579; GS 15, $66,574 to $86,549; GS 16, $78,082 to $96,970; GS 17, $89,675 to $101,632; GS 18, $105,102.