The raise will be effective with the first full pay period of the new year, which for most federal employees will begin Jan. 5. It will be the largest raise for federal workers in a decade, a period that included a three-year freeze over 2011-2013 and raises in other years in the range of 1 to 2 percent.
The increases by locality are based on an advisory council’s comparisons of federal and private-sector salary rates using Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Raises are based on where employees work, not where they live.
The Washington-Baltimore locality encompasses not only those cities and their close-in suburbs but also much of Maryland and Northern Virginia and reaches into eastern West Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania.
The San Francisco and Seattle areas will receive the next-largest boost, 3.4 percent each, with the San Diego, Los Angeles and New York areas getting between 3.3 percent and 3.4 percent raises. The smallest raise, 2.85 percent, will be paid in the catchall locality, called the “rest of the U.S.”
The raises apply to employees under the General Schedule, the salary system covering most white-collar federal employees below the executive level. Raises for blue-collar employees are limited to the local white-collar amount.
Career employees in the Senior Executive Service and in nonexecutive positions at similar levels receive raises based on performance ratings. They are paid within a range that for most will top out at $197,300.
A separate pay cap applies to General Schedule employees. That cap, which will be $170,800, will restrict the raises of employees near the top of that pay scale in the Washington area and in some other city areas.
The order brings to an end a year of up-and-down prospects for raises for the 2.1 million executive branch employees outside the U.S. Postal Service. Trump initially recommended paying no increase for 2020 but then in late summer backed a 2.6 percent increase, to be paid across the board. Meanwhile, the House had voted for the 3.1 percent average total amount.
The Senate never took a position, effectively supporting 2.6 percent, but both the Senate and the White House ultimately agreed to the 3.1 percent figure, split as the House had proposed, as part of a measure to fund federal agencies through the 2020 budget year.