The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a proposal Monday in the Federal Register to add four new 2019 locality pay areas. These pay areas would impact about 62,000 federal employees and include:
- Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL
- San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX
- Burlington-South Burlington, VT
- Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC
In April, the Federal Salary Council also proposed locality pay areas for Omaha, Nebraska, and Corpus Christi, Texas, however OPM did not include these areas in Monday’s proposal.
After OPM issues the final regulations, the president will set pay rates for the four new locality areas. This will likely happen at the end of December, just before the official 2019 GS pay tables are released. The proposed changes would be applicable on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2019, subject to issuance of final regulations.
“Implementing that proposal would not automatically change locality pay rates now applicable in those areas,” OPM’s proposal clarified. “When locality pay percentages are adjusted, past practice has been to allocate a percent of the total GS payroll for locality pay raises and to have the overall dollar cost for such pay raises be the same, regardless of the number of locality pay areas. If a percent of the total GS payroll is allocated for locality pay increases, the addition of new areas results in a somewhat smaller amount to allocate for locality pay increases in existing areas. Implementing higher locality pay rates in the four new locality pay areas could thus result in relatively lower pay increases for employees in existing locality pay areas than they would otherwise receive.”
The proposal also included other changes to current locality pay areas:
- add McKinley County, NM, to the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM locality pay area (affecting approximately 1,600 GS schedule employees)
- establish San Luis Obispo County, CA, as part of the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, locality pay area (impacting about 100 GS workers).
According to OPM, the boundaries of locality pay areas are based on factors which may include local labor market patterns, commuting patterns, and the practices of other employers. The Pay Agent considers the views and recommendations of the Federal Salary Council, a body composed of experts in the fields of labor relations and pay policy and representatives of Federal employee organizations. The president appoints the members of the Council, which submits annual recommendations to the Pay Agent about the administration of the locality pay program, including the geographic boundaries of locality pay areas.
OPM’s proposal will be open for public comments for 30 days.