Commentary: Feds Spent over $550 Million to Add Cost-of-Living Adjustments—Even When They Weren’t Necessary

by Adam Andrzejewski


The federal government, like many private companies that have offices in different locations, has provisions to adjust employees’ pay based on their location. It’s called locality pay.

For example, an employee in San Francisco, Calif. has a significantly higher cost of living than an employee in Casper, Wyo. San Francisco’s locality adjustment is an additional 41.44% of base pay.

But what about Casper, Wyo.? Well, despite being designated as a base category with the lowest cost of living, they still get a 16.2-percent pay increase from their base pay.

That’s right, no matter where they live, every employee is guaranteed at least a 16.2-percent bonus each year.

Instead of normalizing cost of living adjustments based off a 0-percent adjustment for someone living in an area that does not require a pay increase, that category, named “Rest of U.S.” still receives an additional 16.2-percent on their base pay as a federal employee.

So how much money does this cost taxpayers?

According to, a nonprofit that provides information about the government pay scale, there are 44,329 federal employees that work in the “Rest of U.S.” locality. The average federal employee salary in 2020 was $76,667.77. Therefore, 16.2-percent of the average 2020 salary amounts to $12,420.18 per employee in extra compensation based on the Rest of US designation.

Those 44,329 federal employees times the extra $12,420.18 per employee equals a total of $550,574,159. All that extra money for employees who don’t need a salary adjustment.

This free bonus is ridiculous. If the government decides it needs to pay its workers more, it should legislatively adjust the base bay of federal workers instead of playing tricks with the cost-of-living adjustment.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

– – –

Adam Andrzejewski is a contributor to RealClearPolicy.




Content created by RealClearPolicy is available without charge to any eligible news publisher. For republishing terms, please contact [email protected].

Related posts