Despite COLA decline, paychecks to get boost
Stars and Stripes March 5, 2008
The cost-of-living allowance dropped two points at most U.S. military installations in mainland Japan and Okinawa, despite the Japanese yen’s continued strength against the U.S. dollar.
But servicemembers can still expect to see more COLA in their next paycheck due to the short month in February.
A two-point drop, however, still means less money per day for active-duty members collecting COLA.
Military officials say it’s hard to quantify what a two-point difference means for servicemembers, as COLA varies by location, rank, years of service and number of dependents.
For an E-5 with six years of experience and two dependents at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, two points equals about $45 a month, or about $22.50 per pay period, according to data on the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee Web site.
During the Feb. 16-28 pay period, that E-5 made $343.20 in COLA.
With two more days in the current pay period, March 1-15, that E-5 will collect $374 in COLA.
However slight, the dip in COLA comes on the heels of a tumbling exchange rate. Last week, the dollar sank to 103.74 yen, the weakest since March 2005, according to a March 1 report by Bloomberg News.
For most of the latter half of February, the dollar-to-yen exchange rate hovered between 106 and 108 yen.
The per diem committee selects allowance exchange rates about eight days before the effective date of the new allowance.
COLA didn’t budge at U.S. installations in South Korea.
For more information or to calculate COLA rates, go to http://perdiem.hqda.pentagon.mil/perdiem/ocform.html.