Most federal government employees are paid salaries established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under its General Schedule (GS) pay scheme. Pay grades range from GS-1 to GS-15. There are 10 salary steps within each grade. Step 1 is the lowest salary in the grade and Step 15 the highest. GS-4 employees typically earned a base salary of about $25,000 in 2010 and may have earned more due to locality adjustments in pay.
General Schedule Pay Grades
The U.S. Personnel Office publishes GS salary tables every year. Salaries for federal employees vary by grade and step. Salaries are also adjusted by three major factors: cost-of-living adjustments to keep pace with inflation; raises given to federal employees; and locality pay, to account for the high cost of living in some areas such as New York City or San Francisco.
GS Pay Grades in 2010
Pay grades in 2010 ranged from a low of $17,803 for a GS-1, Step 1 employee to a high of $129,517 for a GS-15, Step 10 federal employee.
GS-4 Pay Scale
Federal employees at the GS-4 pay grade had a base salary in 2010 of anywhere from $24,518 for a Step 1 employee to $31,871 at the Step 10 level.
GS-4 Locality Pay
Locality pay adjustments in 2010 increased salaries for GS-4 federal workers. The highest adjustment was for the San Francisco area, where a 35.15 percent locality adjustment and smaller adjustments for inflation increased GS-4 salaries to $33,136 for a Step 1 employee and $43,074 for a Step 10.