Weak Korean won drops post allowance to zero
November 12, 2008
Federal civilian workers in South Korea shouldn’t bother searching paychecks they’ll get later this month for their overseas living allowance — they won’t find any.
Allowances went up in Japan, however.
Post allowances for U.S. government civilians in South Korea fell to zero on Sunday, further proof of the won’s dismal performance this year, according to State Department figures.
The change means many civilian workers in the country, after seeing the allowance fall in recent weeks, will get no extra cash in their paychecks to help with the cost of living in a foreign country.
Workers in Osan and Uijongbu will still receive a 5 percent bump in pay as a post hardship differential, which is compensation for extremely difficult or unhealthy conditions or physical hardship.
Meanwhile, civilian post allowances in Japan increased this week as the yen continues to stay strong against the dollar, the department’s Office of Allowances reported.
Employees at most military installations saw their allowances increase from 35 to 42 percent of expendable income, which is considered pay left over after housing, savings and health care costs. Those in Tokyo were bumped from 60 to 70 percent.
Civilian allowances are adjusted every two weeks by the State Department, which monitors national exchange rates and civilian buying habits.
The South Korean won, Asia’s worst-performing currency this year, is expected to continue its downward spiral well into 2009 as the country’s economy moves into recession, the Bloomberg news service reported Monday.
Last week, a single civilian working at Osan Air Base in South Korea with a base salary of $32,000 would have received a post allowance rate of $810 per year, which dropped from $1,620 per year in October.
Now, that same civilian will get no post allowance money for at least the next two weeks, when the rates will be reassessed.
The change affects all civilians at all salary ranges and family sizes, according to the State Department.
Still, each dollar in a paycheck buys more on the South Korean economy as the value of the won drops. Post allowances usually level exchange rate advantages and disadvantages for federal employees, who are paid in U.S. dollars.
The increases in Japan will mean a single civilian with a base salary of $32,000 working at Sasebo Naval Base in Japan jumped from an annual rate of $5,670 to $6,804, the department reported.
The daily exchange rate stood at 95 yen to the dollar on Monday, Community Bank reported, as the Japanese currency stood relatively solid in the face of continuing global financial turmoil.
The dollar amount varies for each U.S. civilian employee depending on salary, location and family size. Allowance calculation tables can be found at the State Department Web site: http://aoprals.state.gov.