The federal-private sector pay gap has narrowed a little, with federal employees now behind by an average of 31.86 percent, compared with 34.07 percent in the prior accounting, according to a report that, if the past is a guide, likely will have little impact on prospects for a January 2019 federal pay raise.

The Federal Salary Council assessment comes about six months later than usual since the council did not meet last fall on its regular schedule; the members–union officials and outside pay experts–had not been reappointed on time. The prior number, reported in late 2016, had been virtually unchanged over the previous several years.


The report shows that the widest pay gap continues to be in the San Francisco area, followed by Washington-Baltimore, New York and Los Angeles. The narrowest remains in the “rest of U.S.” locality, which covers areas in the contiguous states outside one of the 44 city areas (Alaska and Hawaii are separate localities in their entirety) as well as U.S. territories and possessions.

By law, the indicated pay gaps should have been essentially closed by now, through locality pay added on top of nationwide increases designed to keep federal salaries largely apace with increases in the private sector. For 2019, that portion of the increase is supposed to be 1.6 percent, resulting from shaving 0.5 percentage points off the figure indicated by a Labor Department measure of private sector salary growth.

See also, GS Pay System for the Federal Government at ask.FEDweek.com

The law has not worked as intended up to now, though, and the White House is seeking to continue that by recommending no pay raise for January. Congress has not actively considered the issue; in recent years it has allowed White House proposals on pay to take effect by default.