U.S. civilians in S. Korea to see COLA increase
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — On the heels of a Cost of Living Allowance hike for servicemembers, U.S. civilians in South Korea will see their post allowance double, officials said Tuesday.
Effective Thursday, the post-allowance rate will go from 5 percent to 10 percent. The figure is based on spendable income as determined by the State Department’s Office of Allowances.
Post allowances are given to civilian employees in an effort to make up for the higher costs of goods and services in foreign countries. When those expenditures are 3 percent higher than similar figures in Washington, D.C., a post allowance goes into effect.
The post allowance index tends to get higher as the dollar weakens against the won. This week, the dollar fetched 1,112 won at military banks in South Korea; it’s steadily lost ground against the won in trading.
The Office of Allowances uses a three-day average of exchange rates from military banks, which is lower than the Korea Exchange Bank rate.
Banking analysts in South Korea say that similar dollar struggles against the Japanese yen have pushed up the won’s value.
Post allowances vary depending on a civilian employee’s salary and family size. The Office of Allowances breaks down the figures for varying salaries and family sizes at: http://www.state.gov/m/a/als/1736.htm.
In addition, civilian employees get a post differential, separate from post allowances. Post differentials are awarded when an overseas assignment has “harsher conditions” than in the United States.
The rate for civilians in South Korea is 5 percent of base pay and taxable.