February 05, 2002
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Federal Pay Gap Continues to Widen

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Those who attempt to measure the ever-widening pay gap between the federal and private sectors, need look no further than

The nation’s largest federal employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), is using its online FEPCA Calculator to illustrate that the pay of federal employees is falling further and further behind private sector pay. AFGE’s FEPCA Calculator, updated to incorporate the 2002 pay adjustment, allows federal employees to enter their geographic location, grade and step to determine what their annual salary would be if the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) had been fully implemented.

Under the 1990 pay law, federal salaries should have reached parity with non-federal workers by 2002. If FEPCA had been followed, GS workers would have received, on average, a 22 percent increase in 2002. Instead, the federal pay gap continues to increase.

In 2001, the pay of a GS-10, step 1, in the Washington, D.C. area was 13 percent behind the private sector. Today that gap has increased to 14 percent. A federal worker in Portland is now making 15 percent less—again up one percentile. And in Houston, the pay gap has widened from 18 percent in 2001 to 20 percent today.

“The hits to federal pay just keep on coming,” National President Bobby L. Harnage noted. “Instead of fully implementing FEPCA, President Bush has proposed an increase in 2003 which not only fails to follow the long-established tradition of pay parity between military and civilian workers, but also falls one-half of a percentage point below the Employment Cost Index formula used in recent years to adjust federal pay, as required by law.”

“Federal employees are working side-by-side with the armed forces to fight the war on terrorism,” Harnage added. “Yet, Bush ignored federal employees in his State of the Union address and now insults them in his budget proposals. Is it any wonder that federal recruitment and retention have hit a brick wall, with some 50 percent of the federal work force eligible to retire in the next several years?”

“It’s unfortunate that AFGE will once again have to fight the pay parity battle on Capitol Hill, when we should be working with Congress to improve the federal government’s ability to protect the American public,” Harnage concluded.

Federal blue-collar workers will also suffer further pay disparities should Congress continues its practice of capping the pay of federal Wage Grade employees, effectively undermining the ability of the prevailing rate system to operate as intended.

To learn more about AFGE, visit The statistics used to create AFGE’s FEPCA Calculator were provided by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

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