GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale 2021

Every January of the year, the General Schedule payscale is adjusted as the universal nationwide pay increase, for salaries and wages of private-sector employees. In general, federal employees will be able to move to more advanced grades by promotion at specific intervals all the way through the highest potential of a job promotion, which typically one whole year at minimum. These grades are determined by policies, standards of qualification, and regulation established by OPM.

What is GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale?

If you aren’t familiar yet with the pay scale of General Schedule (GS), it is the pay scale that set by the federal government to define salaries and wages of more than 70% of federal workers. The standard of payment schedule is adjusted each year on the month of January as all-inclusive pay raise, again as stated above, based on the changes in salaries and wages of private-sector employees.

GS Pay Scale 2020 & 2021

There are three different factors used by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to determine the GS pay scale. This established system is relevant to the majority of civilian federal workers, with the exception of workers that belong to the category of Senior and Executive levels. Here are the said three factors:

  • General Schedule Pay Grade

This system of pay grades comprises of 15 different ranges of categories. The lowest category is GS-1 and the highest is GS-15. Each one of the employees is assigned to a certain grade based on several factors such as job requirements and responsibility level. For instance, someone with the certification of higher education will acquire a higher position than those with lower education levels.

  • General Schedule Step

The system of grades in the previous factor is divided into 10 steps each. There is a 3% salary difference between every step – the step level is directly proportional to the amount of salary. An employee is able to move to a higher step if they reach a new seniority level or gain a promotion. Typically, it’d take someone about 18 years to go from the lowest step all the way into the highest one within a grade.

  • Locality

The locality system refers to the area in which the employee is assigned to work. It adjusts to the initial pay for living costs in a particular geographic region. It means that the employee’s pay rate varies by location even with the same grade position and step within the grade. The purpose of locality pay is to accommodate workers’ needs in areas with more expensive living costs such as those who dwell in major metropolitan cities.

The employers may advertise and assign jobs at any appropriate grade according to them – just as the employees may use their education and experience to obtain higher grades. It applies to both federal and non-federal workers. After the employee is hired, they entitle to receive raise each time they are promoted to higher steps and grades.

There are some positions in the field of work that labeled as ‘corporate ladder’. Employees in those positions are qualified to be promoted to more advanced grades without having to apply for a new position. For instance, recent graduates with a corporate ladder will be able to move from GS-5 grade, to GS-7 grade, to GS-9 grade in a span of three years without having to switch jobs. As an employee or job-seekers, you may find the promotion possibility and grade of certain jobs at the job announcement in the overview section.

The GS pay scale is utilized by the majority of government agencies, but there are over forty agencies and/or their subdivision that use different pay scales. Some of them use the GS system with special rates. Some jobs have initial pay rates determined by the federal government due to the requirement of high skills for roles that difficult to fill, especially in fields like medical, technical, and scientific ones. Some of the instances of agencies that obtain special pay rates are the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale 2020

In 2020, the base pay rates of the GS Pay Scale started at $19,543 annually at step 1 GS-1. The annual base pay rate for step 10 GS-15 is $142,180. Note that base pay or initial pay rates do not include locality pay. The annual highest salary for Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2020 is $219,200.

The average pay raise for federal workers is ranging between 1% and 3% each year – some locality areas may gain higher effective raises than others due to adjustment changes in locality pay rate. In the year 2020, the raise is set at 2.6%. Check the tables of the GS pay scale of 2020 to see the oversight, data, and policy of the raise.

There is not much difference related to the GS pay scale between 2019 and 2020. The basic rules of determining grades based on education, experience, and job complexity level still apply. There are still 10 steps within each grade of the General Schedule, which earned based on work performance and service period. No additional pay areas in 2020, which means that the numbers are still the same at 53 areas in 2019.

GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale 2020 Tables

GS Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
GS-1 $19,543 $20,198 $20,848 $21,494 $22,144 $22,524 $23,166 $23,814 $23,840 $24,448
GS-2 $21,974 $22,497 $23,225 $23,840 $24,108 $24,817 $25,526 $26,235 $26,944 $27,653
GS-3 $23,976 $24,775 $25,574 $26,373 $27,172 $27,971 $28,770 $29,569 $30,368 $31,167
GS-4 $26,915 $27,812 $28,709 $29,606 $30,503 $31,400 $32,297 $33,194 $34,091 $34,988
GS-5 $30,113 $31,117 $32,121 $33,125 $34,129 $35,133 $36,137 $37,141 $38,145 $39,149
GS-6 $33,567 $34,686 $35,805 $36,924 $38,043 $39,162 $40,281 $41,400 $42,519 $43,638
GS-7 $37,301 $38,544 $39,787 $41,030 $42,273 $43,516 $44,759 $46,002 $47,245 $48,488
GS-8 $41,310 $42,687 $44,064 $45,441 $46,818 $48,195 $49,572 $50,949 $52,326 $53,703
GS-9 $45,627 $47,148 $48,669 $50,190 $51,711 $53,232 $54,753 $56,274 $57,795 $59,316
GS-10 $50,246 $51,921 $53,596 $55,271 $56,946 $58,621 $60,296 $61,971 $63,646 $65,321
GS-11 $55,204 $57,044 $58,884 $60,724 $62,564 $64,404 $66,244 $68,084 $69,924 $71,764
GS-12 $66,167 $68,373 $70,579 $72,785 $74,991 $77,197 $79,403 $81,609 $83,815 $86,021
GS-13 $78,681 $81,304 $83,927 $86,550 $89,173 $91,796 $94,419 $97,042 $99,665 $102,288
GS-14 $92,977 $96,076 $99,175 $102,274 $105,373 $108,472 $111,571 $114,670 $117,769 $120,868
GS-15 $109,366 $113,012 $116,658 $120,304 $123,950 $127,596 $131,242 $134,888 $138,534 $142,180

GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale 2021

For the next year, the President released a recommendation of a 1% pay raise in the 2021 budget requests for civil servants. He recommended no adjustments on locality pay as well. The time of pay raise details will come soon, but at this stage, it is generally advised to lower your expectations regarding this matter.

Unlike 2020, a federal pay increase over 3% seems quite improbable for 2021. There are several factors that provoke this prediction, some of them being the Presidential election, the on-going pandemic, and the economic downturn that comes with it. However, if Congress doesn’t decide any alteration of the President’s one percent raise advice for the remainder of the calendar, then it’s almost a definite decision to be passed.

You may try to get a hold of salary guesswork for next year. Use the prediction table or calculate to for your current positions, by matching it with your work location and other details regarding the salary range. Note that the prediction will be based on the GS pay scale raise of last year.

GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale 2021 Tables

GS Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10
GS-1 $20,051 $20,723 $21,390 $22,053 $22,720 $23,110 $23,768 $24,433 $24,460 $25,084
GS-2 $22,545 $23,082 $23,829 $24,460 $24,735 $25,462 $26,190 $26,917 $27,645 $28,372
GS-3 $24,599 $25,419 $26,239 $27,059 $27,878 $28,698 $29,518 $30,338 $31,158 $31,977
GS-4 $27,615 $28,535 $29,455 $30,376 $31,296 $32,216 $33,137 $34,057 $34,977 $35,898
GS-5 $30,896 $31,926 $32,956 $33,986 $35,016 $36,046 $37,077 $38,107 $39,137 $40,167
GS-6 $34,440 $35,588 $36,736 $37,884 $39,032 $40,180 $41,328 $42,476 $43,624 $44,773
GS-7 $38,271 $39,546 $40,821 $42,097 $43,372 $44,647 $45,923 $47,198 $48,473 $49,749
GS-8 $42,384 $43,797 $45,210 $46,622 $48,035 $49,448 $50,861 $52,274 $53,686 $55,099
GS-9 $46,813 $48,374 $49,934 $51,495 $53,055 $54,616 $56,177 $57,737 $59,298 $60,858
GS-10 $51,552 $53,271 $54,989 $56,708 $58,427 $60,145 $61,864 $63,582 $65,301 $67,019
GS-11 $56,639 $58,527 $60,415 $62,303 $64,191 $66,079 $67,966 $69,854 $71,742 $73,630
GS-12 $67,887 $70,151 $72,414 $74,677 $76,941 $79,204 $81,467 $83,731 $85,994 $88,258
GS-13 $80,727 $83,418 $86,109 $88,800 $91,491 $94,183 $96,874 $99,565 $102,256 $104,947
GS-14 $95,394 $98,574 $101,754 $104,933 $108,113 $111,292 $114,472 $117,651 $120,831 $124,011
GS-15 $112,210 $115,950 $119,691 $123,432 $127,173 $130,913 $134,654 $138,395 $142,136 $145,877