EO: Federal employees gain new $15 minimum wage

Federal employees long have heard that, generally, they are underpaid, according to some reports—that is, when compared with their private-sector counterparts.

But generally that’s so, many experts have found over the years, among those feds at the top end of their professions. Those feds at the entry level or who do yeoman work at the lower levels of the pay scale are doing just fine, thanks. This is the widespread impression.

Turns out, however, that many at the lower end of the pay scale—who provide important work for the federal government—earn less than they should, less than is necessary just to get by.

The new White House just took a big step to address this unfortunate situation. President Biden signed an Executive Order pressing agencies, through the authority of the Office of Personnel Management, to ensure that all feds earn at least $15 per hour.

“There are thousands of federal employees who work full-time yet earn less than $15 an hour,” said Everett Kelley, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, approving the measure. “The federal government must serve as an example for other employers to follow by providing its own employees with a living wage, and we look forward to working with the Biden administration to make this a reality.”

Indeed, the lowest rung in the federal GS-scale still pays just under $20,000 per year. At $15 per hour, a fed would earn around $30,000 with a steady 40-hour workweek.

The Jan. 22 White House EO—which covered multiple moves to improve the lot of federal employees—directs agencies to find those who earn less than the new target—and directs authorities to take steps to ensure pay is raised to the new minimum.

“The Director of OPM shall provide a report to the President with recommendations to promote a $15/hour minimum wage for Federal employees,” the EO states.

Reader comments

Thu, Mar 4, 2021 mike c Chicago

What does this mean for the whole GS scale? Then end of locality pay? The entire scale gets a percentage raise? The GS scale finally gets its revamp that has been talked about for 500 years?

Wed, Feb 24, 2021

Fair? So it's fair when your making more money then others but it's not fair to you when they get raises that have nothing to do with you lmao get another job if you don't make enough.... That's what you'd tell then right LMAO

Thu, Feb 4, 2021

What about the GS-4 and GS-5 who are currently sitting at $15 and $16.90 or within the first few steps, who have graduated with a 4 year college degree? It's not worth it when you have loans, etc. Let's think about the entire federal government pay system.

Tue, Feb 2, 2021

The GS pay scale is without locality pay and even RUS gets a locality increase. lowest GS-1 step 1 pay is $22886, ~$11.40/hr.

Mon, Feb 1, 2021

I guess the whole GS scale is getting a $5 raise, sounds good.

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