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An early marker has been set for the January 2018 (not 2017) general schedule pay raise, as the Labor Department has reported that the employment cost index measure used for determining the across-the-board component under federal pay law was 2.4 percent in the measuring period ending in September. Under that law, the figure is supposed to be used in setting the raise recommendation in the White House’s annual budget proposal, which comes out early each year, for the following January. A half percentage point is supposed to be shaved off that amount in order to keep employees roughly apace with private sector wage growth—meaning a recommended raise of 1.9 percent, in this case—and additional locality pay is supposed to be paid on top sufficient to virtually close local pay gaps. That system never has worked as designed, however, and raises instead have become one more issue in the annual budget cycle. In some years the reduced ECI figure alone is used the starting point; in others, the White House has recommended raises in the neighborhood of the reduced ECI figure but not directly linked to it.