Post allowance, the cost-of-living allowance given to American civilians in some overseas areas, dropped 16 percent Sunday in parts of Belgium.

The drop was attributed to retail price data that showed prices in Washington, D.C., were climbing faster than those in Belgium, according to Joyce McNeil, who reviews and approves analyses of post allowance rates in Western Europe for the State Department’s Office of Allowances. Most other European locales were not affected.

American civilians working for the U.S. in Chièvres, including SHAPE, can expect anywhere from about $90 to $200 less per month in post allowance, depending on their salary and number of dependents. Rates in Brussels were affected by the new price data, but not be enough to drive the COLA rate lower. The surveys were conducted between October and November of last year.

Exchange rates, which were responsible for a jump in allowance rates late last year and early this year, did not significantly affect the office’s latest calculations.

Price data from Austria, Brazil, Peru and other locations also showed Washington prices were increasing faster than they were overseas, relatively speaking, McNeil said. The only exception to this trend, according to the latest data, was South Korea.

Retail price surveys for many other European locations are due later this year, and some others still need to be processed, according to McNeil. She wouldn’t speculate as to whether allowance rates in other locales were expected to drop. "It really and truly depends on the specifics" in a given location, she said.

However, if the rising cost of goods and services in the U.S. continues to outpace those in Europe, allowance rates could be expected to drop.

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