Thousands of Feds Would Get Raises Under OPM’s Locality Pay Proposal

By July 8, 2018Benefits, Retirement

Around 62,000 federal employees could see a pay raise next year, thanks to proposed regulations from the Office of Personnel Management.

On Friday, OPM Director Jeff Pon published a proposal in the Federal Register to add four regions to its list of locality pay areas for 2019: Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, Ala.; Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.; San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.

The proposed rule would mark the first implementation of recommendations from the Federal Salary Council since President Trump took office. The council had recommended the four regions be added in 2016 and 2017, but last December, the President’s Pay Agent delayed action on those proposals until 2019.

Earlier this year, the Federal Salary Council also proposed locality pay areas for Corpus Christi, Texas, and Omaha, Nebraska, and recommended a review of how it determines whether to add new regions to the list of locality pay areas. OPM’s proposed regulations do not act on either of these proposals.

Federal workers who live or work within locality pay areas receive additional compensation on top of their base General Schedule wage, typically in regions with elevated costs of living and higher average wages for private sector workers.

“Based on its review, the Federal Salary Council recommended new locality pay areas be established for four metropolitan areas with pay gaps averaging more than 10 percentage points above that for the ‘Rest of U.S.’ locality pay area over an extended period,” Pon wrote.

Also included in the proposed rule are some minor changes to existing locality pay areas. The Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, N.M., region would be expanded to include McKinley County, N.M., impacting approximately 1,600 G.S. workers. And San Luis Obispo County, Calif., would be added to the existing Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., region, adding about 100 federal employees.

Although the proposed rules establish the new locality pay areas, it does not stipulate the actual pay rates, which will be “set by the president” after the regulations go into effect. President Trump has proposed a pay freeze for all federal civilian employees in 2019, although a Senate panel recently pushed back against that effort, including a 1.9 percent raise for federal workers in a fiscal 2019 appropriations bill.

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