President Joe Biden gave the gift of an annual pay raise just before Christmas Eve to federal employees.

On Friday, the White House issued an executive order formally declaring a 4.6% average pay increase, comprised of an across-the-board pay raise of 4.1% plus a 0.5% locality pay adjustment for millions of civilian employees.

That order is consistent with the preliminary raise he initially proposed at the end of August, which was, and is, significantly larger than last year’s raise of 2.7%. Congress silently endorsed the rate Biden proposed by not setting an alternative in the omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2023.

“This increase is on par with the pay raise given to military members, and it tracks with recent increases in private-sector pay for the second consecutive year,” said Ken Thomas, national president of the National Association for Active and Retired Federal Employees, in a statement.

It’s become customary for the president to declare his own pay raise and bypass the automatic adjustment triggered by the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990. If the president fails to issue a pay raise, it defaults by law. The president has authority to circumvent the rate set by the Pay Agent, which includes the directors of the White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management, as well as the secretary of labor.

Not everyone is guaranteed a 4.6% adjustment, however.

The pay adjustment does not apply to senior political officials that have been covered by a pay freeze. OPM will issue a separate memo on pay adjustments for certain prevailing rate employees.

Special base rates for law enforcement officers at GS grades 3 through 10 are increased by 4.1%.

For the Senior Executive Service, the minimum basic pay is adjusted to be consistent with the increase for senior level positions of $141,022 in 2023. An SES member with a pay rate below the minimum must receive a pay increase effective Jan. 1. The maximums are either $195,000 or $212,100, depending on the presence of a certified appraisal system.

The Executive Schedule rates of pay are increased by 4.1%. That is intended to set pay limits for employees and pay systems unaffected by any pay freeze for certain senior political officials.

The GS salary cap for high-ranking employees increased to $183,500 from $176,300 in 2023, which tracks with the rate for level IV of the Executive Schedule.

What happens now?

Employees should see the increases reflected in the first pay period of January.

The salary tables for 2023 are also viewable on OPM’s website at this link here.

Federal employees can also anticipate updates to locality pay, especially if they are among the 32,000 expected to be re-designated to a higher pay locality area for fiscal year 2023.

Zamone Perez contributed reporting.

Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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