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Who makes how much at DOD?


Several readers had thoughts on our story, "Uncertainty persists with DOD furloughs."
I would agree reducing salaries of people making below $35,000 a year would be unfair and counterproductive, wrote one. Does anyone have a quantitative distribution chart or table on what DOD employees make? My suspicion is that many make more than $100,000.

Another reader said: DOD employees do not make close to $100,000. It all depends on the pay system the employee is in, but in the D.C. area, the six-figure salary is reserved for senior leadership in most cases, or those with advanced master's or doctoral degrees. Many staff make as low as $33K/year. I do not believe this is dissimilar to the civilian sector. Also, I believe there can be a sequestration without a furlough. Spending cuts, yes... but at the expense of your loyal employees?

Amber Corrin's response: Like more than 70 percent of the federal government, Defense Department salaries are mostly based on the General Schedule pay scale. The majority of government employees fall between GS levels 11 and 14. That means that a majority, or 36 percent, make between roughly $50,000 at the low end and $107,000 at the high end. Within that band, about 5 percent are at the GS-14 level, which has a range of $85,000 to $107,000. The GS schedule goes up to level 15, a category in which about 3 percent fell in 2008, according to figures that break down the data.

On the flip side, GS levels 1 through 5 all top out under or around $35,000 a year. Together the sum of government employees on GS schedules 5 or below, as of 2008, was just over 10 percent.

As for whether DOD can implement sequestration without furloughs, that is a question Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has convened a review to answer. So far Hagel has cut the number of proposed furlough days to 14, down from 22. He has publicly expressed reservations about furloughing employees, so it is possible a way could still be found to avoid furloughs altogether once a comprehensive review due at the end of May is completed.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Apr 25, 2013 at 12:10 PM

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Reader comments

Sat, Apr 27, 2013

Misleading article: 1. 36% is not a majority, and 2. Even more important, the percentages in the article add up to 51%, which is "the majority" and their salaries fall between $35K to $49K. So, the majority of DoD employees make $49K or less and will have that pay cut by 20% for 14 weeks in a row!

Fri, Apr 26, 2013

Half the DoD (and Federal) employees is DC and other ultra-high-cost areas could and should be moved elsewhere. With moderm comms. no need for everyone to be near the seat of power. Even with the locality pay, grades are usually 1-2 higher in DC for same duty set, to get people to come and stay.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013

Not sure why GS-14 was included in that group. GS-14 is a management position and many GS-13 positions are, too. As the article says, it's only 5% of the workforce. The only reason I can think to include it is for the "Shock!" factor of showing some employees are above six figures. EVERY other position below that is less than six figures. And, locality pay only affects those who live in major metropolitan areas, DC being an extreme case, where cost of living and local private sector wages are higher.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013

36% is the majority when the rest of the subsets are significantly lower.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013

And since when is 36% a majority? - "That means that a majority, or 36 percent, make between roughly $50,000 at the low end and $107,000 at the high end."

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