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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

How does the Federal pay system work?

For white-collar employees, basic pay is usually set under the General Schedule (GS), which is adjusted annually. Employees in GS positions in the continental United States also receive locality pay (there are 32 defined locality pay areas). Employees outside the continental United States in non-foreign areas (i.e., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) do not receive locality rates, but rather receive cost-of-living allowances. Vacancy announcements include pay ranges for the advertised positions. The current salary tables for the GS and locality pay areas are available at

For blue-collar employees, basic pay is set under the Federal Wage System (FWS). There are 132 appropriated fund and 125 non-appropriated fund local wage areas. For current FWS rates, please visit and select a state and county for the corresponding wage schedule.

White-collar and blue-collar employees in certain occupations and/or geographic areas may receive special rates. Special rates are higher rates of pay than GS and locality rates.

Some agencies have statutory authority to administer their own pay systems. Employees in these agencies are compensated through alternative pay systems established by their employing agency.

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