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President Biden is apparently topping off his first year in office with a minimum wage hike – but only for Federal employees (whose wages the White House has direct power to raise).

News of the wage hike was first reported by Axios, which noted that President Biden signed an executive order calling on the Office of Personnel Management (the federal government’s human resources agency) to produce a report on federal wages which ultimately recommended that the minimum be raised. That a group representing federal employees would recommend that their wages be raised probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Federal agencies have been ordered to raise the wages for government employees to a minimum of $15/hours, something Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Walmart’s Doug McMillon accomplished years ago (indeed, AMZN, one of the private sector’s biggest employers, has been forced to take its minimum even higher to attract talent during the US economy’s labor crunch).

But as far as a pre-midterm sop to the electorate goes, we suppose this will suffice. Democrats need all the votes they can get ahead of this year’s midterms, and federal employees are one of the most reliable sources of Democratic votes (for reasons that should be obvious to all).

The new guidance is being implemented by the Office of Personnel Management, and will impact nearly 70K federal employees, including workers with USPS and the Postal Regulatory Commission (which are technically outside OPM’s purview). The lowest paid members of this group – roughly 56K of the 70K workers mentioned above – will now receive the $15 minimum.

Affected workers include (according to Axios):

Around 130 wildland firefighters, 400 plant protection technicians, 3,800 custodial workers and 50,000 DOD employees at military bases around the country, per OPM.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (a former governor of Iowa) celebrated the guidance, saying that USDA employees “deserve to be fairly compensated for their talents and for all the important work they do for our country.”

Federal workers affected by the wage hike will see it reflected in their paychecks “beginning on the first day of the first applicable pay period commencing on or after Jan. 30 2022.”


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