The 2013 base General Schedule pay scale started at $17,803 annually at the lowest grade and step, with employees at the highest level earning $129,517. The General Schedule in each region varies from the base scale based on cost of living surveys by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The 2013 GS annual rates increased by employee grade and step based on the designation for a given occupation by the Office of Personnel Management. There are 15 grades, which are stable for a single job, and 10 steps, which reflect time spent in a given position. When an employee receives a step increase, the compensation increase is approximately 3 percent of his total salary.