Pay & Benefits

Biden seeks a $15 minimum wage for feds and contractors

President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order to boost the economy by pursuing a $15 minimum wage for federal employees and contractors.

“If we act now, the economy will be stronger in both the short and long run,” Biden said of the orders he signed Friday. “If we act now, we will be better able to meet our moral obligations to each other as Americans.”

The order instructs the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to agencies that would ensure as many as possible are paid at least $15 per hour.

In addition, the order represents the beginning of a 100-day initiative to require federal contractors to pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

“He will direct his administration to initiate a process starting today that would allow him within 100 days to issue and executive order requiring federal contractors to pay at least a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave to workers,” said National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.

“This is something the president talked about on the campaign that, when we are using taxpayer dollars, federal contractors should provide the benefits and pay that workers deserve.”

Assuming an employee works a standard 40-hour workweek, that $15 minimum would result in a $31,200 yearly salary before taxes.

Currently the lowest general schedule pay grade is set at $19,738 per year before locality adjustments. Under 2021 pay tables, feds would have to reach GS-3 step 10 to surpass the $15 per hour requirement if working full time.

According to the most recent OPM employment data, nearly 20,000 federal employees make below $30,000.

“There are thousands of federal employees who work full-time yet earn less than $15 an hour,” American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said.

“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.”

The $15 minimum wage effort is part of a larger order that will also undo many Trump administration workforce initiatives.

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