The 4.1 percent pay raise effective this month pushes the average white-collar federal salary in the Washington area to about $39,600.

Federal workers who make less than $39,000 draw little comfort from that high average. Many doubt it or complain that it presents a distorted picture of the U.S. salary totem pole. But that high average salary is accurate because this is the headquarters city for most agencies. And headquarters is where you find the top ranks.

Locally, there are almost 40,000 Grade 13 employees, compared with about 700 Grade 2 workers. The GS 13s are paid $44,000 to $57,000. The GS 2s get $12,000 to $15,000, perhaps slightly more if they are in the special clerical pay rate system.

By the same token, there are more GS 12s (about 32,000 locally) than there are GS 4s (about 10,000), and more GS 14s (about 30,000) than GS 5s (about 18,000).

Last March, there were about 240,000 white-collar federal workers in the Washington area in Grades 1 through 18. That doesn't include blue-collar, Veterans Administration or Foreign Service personnel, executives, members of Congress or political appointees. These workers bring the total federal work force in the Washington area to more than 360,000.

Here's a look at the local white-collar pay lineup. The average salaries include the new 4.1 percent raise:

Grade 1, 78 employees with an average salary of about $11,200.

Grade 2, 708 employees with an average salary of about $14,100.

Grade 3, 2,983 employees averaging about $15,900.

Grade 4, 10,265 employees averaging about $17,600.

Grade 5, 18,300 employees averaging about $19,900.

Grade 6, 16,200 employees averaging about $22,600.

Grade 7, 23,710 employees averaging about $24,700.

Grade 8, 6,555 employees averaging about $27,900.

Grade 9, 17,855 employees averaging about $28,950.

Grade 10, 1,605 employees averaging about $33,400.

Grade 11, 21,036 employees averaging about $34,300.

Grade 12, 32,427 employees averaging about $41,400.

Grade 13, 39,284 employees averaging about $50,300.

Grade 14, 30,016 employees averaging about $60,700.

Grade 15, 19,019 employees averaging about $73,400.

Grade 16, 408 employees averaging about $80,600.

Grade 17, 85 employees averaging about $92,000.

Grade 18, 42 employees averaging $97,317.

New Investment Limit

Some highly paid U.S. workers this year will be able to contribute up to $8,475 to their thrift savings plan accounts. Last year the maximum contribution allowed by the Internal Revenue Service for the federal savings plan was $7,977. Workers under the old Civil Service Retirement System can contribute up to 5 percent of their pay. Those under the new Federal Employees Retirement System can contribute up to 10 percent. Those who contribute at least 5 percent get a matching 5 percent contribution from the government to their tax-deferred accounts.