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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 21, 2022
Contact: Office of Communications
Tel: 202-594-6827

RELEASE: OPM Announces $15 Minimum Wage for U.S. Federal Civilian Employees

Federal HR agency issues guidance to officially implement a $15 minimum wage for US federal employees, impacting workers in every state

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that federal civilian employees in the U.S. will now be paid at least $15 per hour.

OPM issued a memorandum for heads of Executive departments and agencies that provides implementing guidance for how agencies should adjust pay rates for General Schedule (GS) and Federal Wage System (FWS) employees stationed in the U.S., and how to use administrative authority for other pay systems to lift the pay of federal employees who currently make less than $15 per hour. In total, these changes 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. OPM’s guidance directs agencies to implement these changes by January 30, 2022.

“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. 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 the Director of 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. Examples include—

  • Around 130 Wildland Firefighters in many locations coast-to-coast throughout the country, from New Hampshire to California;
  • Around 400 Plant Protection Technicians, including some in high-cost areas such as Hawaii, who help ensure properties such as farms are accurately inspected for the presence of harmful plants, insects, and plant diseases;
  • Around 3,800 Custodial Workers, including some in VA Medical Centers whose contributions are absolutely essential to providing our veterans with the best possible care; and
  • Around 50,000 Department of Defense employees of non-appropriated fund activities at military bases around the country who provide essential services to our military, including many who are military spouses.

“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 U.S Department of Agriculture Secretary 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.”

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Fact Sheet: Number of federal employees who will receive raise to $15 per hour, by agency or department

*Notes about the data contained in this fact sheet

  • The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs collectively employ the vast majority of the people who are currently paid below $15 per hour, but the $15 minimum hourly rate policy applies to all agencies (excluding the U.S. Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission).
  • This data reflects personnel data submitted by agencies to OPM via the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) system and by DOD for their Nonappropriated Fund workforce.
  • These numbers are approximate. The exact numbers of employees affected by this minimum $15 per hour policy will not be finalized until after agency implementation. Once the guidance is implemented, the total number of employees affected by approving and implementing special rates for GS and FWS is likely to be higher than the numbers listed below.
  • The report uses the January 2021 EHRI data file and is not intended to reflect numbers of employees currently on board.
  • The numbers of employees below $15 per hour may also vary slightly from month to month because of seasonality and agency workloads.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: 1,956

NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES: 35

ARCHITECTURAL AND TRANSPORTATION BARRIERS COMPLIANCE BOARD: 1

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: 177

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: 86

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR: 1

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: 3

DOD (AGGREGATE): 45,243

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: 31

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: 5

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: 251

ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION: 7

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: 61

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: 6

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: 344

CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: 3

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: 1

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION:              13

OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT: 1

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION: 2

DEPARTMENT OF STATE: 2

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: 7

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: 242

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY: 1,227

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: 9,707

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Fact Sheet: Approximate number of federal employees who will receive raise to $15 per hour, by state

*Notes about the data contained in this fact sheet

  • The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs collectively employ the vast majority of the people who are currently paid below $15 per hour, but the $15 minimum hourly rate policy applies to all agencies (excluding the U.S. Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission).
  • This data reflects personnel data submitted by agencies to OPM via the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) system and by DOD for their Nonappropriated Fund workforce.
  • These numbers are approximate. The exact numbers of employees affected by this minimum $15 per hour policy will not be finalized until after agency implementation. Once the guidance is implemented, the total number of employees affected by approving and implementing special rates for GS and FWS is likely to be higher than the numbers listed below.
  • The report uses the January 2021 EHRI data file and is not intended to reflect numbers of employees currently on board.
  • The numbers of employees below $15 per hour may also vary slightly from month to month because of seasonality and agency workloads.

ALABAMA: 1,644

ALASKA: 669

ARIZONA: 1,296

ARKANSAS: 640

CALIFORNIA: 3,393

COLORADO: 1,089

CONNECTICUT: 146

DELAWARE: 216

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: 408

FLORIDA: 5,290

GEORGIA: 3,226

HAWAII: 2,820

IDAHO: 316

ILLINOIS: 845

INDIANA: 168

IOWA: 162

KANSAS: 863

KENTUCKY: 1,263

LOUISIANA: 1,123

MAINE: 90

MARYLAND: 1,123

MASSACHUSETTS: 185

MICHIGAN: 237

MINNESOTA: 155

MISSISSIPPI: 1,025

MISSOURI: 1,160

MONTANA: 202

NEBRASKA: 303

NEVADA: 618

NEW HAMPSHIRE: 45

NEW JERSEY: 424

NEW MEXICO: 1,018

NEW YORK: 729

NORTH CAROLINA: 3,322

NORTH DAKOTA: 327

OHIO: 729

OKLAHOMA: 1,260

OREGON: 111

PENNSYLVANIA: 513

RHODE ISLAND: 174

SOUTH CAROLINA: 1,725

SOUTH DAKOTA: 378

TENNESSEE: 1,173

TEXAS: 6,808

UTAH: 733

VERMONT: 26

VIRGINIA: 5,577

WASHINGTON: 978

WEST VIRGINIA: 209

WISCONSIN: 277

WYOMING: 228

AMERICAN SAMOA: 17

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS: 2

GUAM: 971

PUERTO RICO: 908

VIRGIN ISLANDS:1

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OPM leads and serves the federal government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit OPM.gov or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.


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