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OPM announces $15 minimum wage for federal civilian employees

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Federal civilian employees in the U.S. will now be paid at least $15 per hour, a change that will impact 67,000 out of 2.2 million federal employees.

The largest share of these workers, over 56,000 of them, currently work at the Department of Defense. The Office of Personnel Management guidance directs agencies to implement these changes by Jan. 30.

“As the largest employer in the country, how the federal government treats its workforce has real impact,” said Kiran Ahuja, director of the Office of Personnel Management. “The Biden-Harris administration believes that the federal workforce should be treated with dignity and respect. Raising pay rates across the federal government to a minimum of $15 per hour reflects our appreciation for the federal workforce and our values as a nation.

“We know that paying a living wage provides a myriad of benefits, from recruitment to retention to increased productivity, and more,” Ahuja said. “It’s also the right thing to do. We should strive for every federal job to be a good job, and we want to ensure that every federal employee has a pathway to the middle class. Increasing pay rates to at least $15 per hour will keep the federal government competitive in the marketplace and is another way that we can serve as a model employer, setting a high bar for other sectors to follow.”

During his first week in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce which directs OPM to provide a report to the President with recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for federal employees. That report was submitted to the White House and today’s issued guidance reflects the report’s findings.

The Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Veterans Affairs collectively employ most of the people who are currently paid below $15 per hour but the $15 minimum rate policy applies to all executive branch agencies (excluding the U.S. Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission, which are legally outside the scope of OPM’s authority). Many of the employees who will benefit from this wage increase have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, working resiliently to serve the American public.

Federal employees who will benefit from the Biden-Harris administration’s $15 per hour minimum pay rate policy are found in every state in the country in a variety of occupations that are vital to delivering important services to the American taxpayer.

“Whether they are on the front lines of our food industry, in the fight against climate change, protecting farms from invasive species or our communities from devastating wildfires, each of USDA’s employees deserve to be fairly compensated for their talents and for all the important work they do for our country,” said USDA Tom Vilsack. “As we work to build a better America and make USDA a great place to work, it is important that our employees understand that we value their hard work to support our farmers, ranchers and producers, to fight food and nutrition insecurity, to combat climate change, and to deliver results for the American people. Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration’s leadership in advancing pay equity, approximately 2,000 USDA employees will see their pay increased.”

“Of the nearly 67,000 affected federal employees, 9,700 are from VA,” said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. “These employees include VA food service workers and housekeeping personnel. They are critical front-line employees, central to patient safety and improved outcomes for Veterans in the fight against the continued COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This pay increase is an important step for the civilian men and women who support the military community and their families,” said U.S. Department of Defense Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, the Honorable Gilbert Cisneros. “It’s also well-deserved. And as the lead agency for administering the Federal Wage System, the Department of Defense will implement this change to benefit all federal agencies.”


augusta free press
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