The Federal Salary Council has scheduled for November 6 its annual meeting where the official “pay gap” figure is announced, based on Labor Department comparisons of federal versus non-federal pay by locality. This year there will be an additional focus, since the administration intends to launch 13 new GS localities (Albany, Albuquerque, Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Davenport, Harrisburg, Kansas City, Laredo, Las Vegas, Palm Bay, St. Louis and Tucson) effective in January, as well as to expand the boundaries of most of the existing localities. Both changes would mean moving employees from the lowest paid locality, the catchall “rest of the U.S.,” into a metro zone where salary rates are higher. Rules to create the localities have been proposed but not yet finalized, and it remains unclear exactly where the new boundary lines would fall. The meeting could provide further details and also could provide the first solid indicator of how much the affected employees would stand to benefit, since the data presented there break out pay gaps by locality. Creating the new localities is projected to benefit just above 100,000 employees, while the number affected by expanding existing localities is less certain; an earlier estimate put that figure around 20,000. Congress continues to pursue a strategy of allowing a January 2016 federal raise to take effect by default rather than enact one into law. Unless there’s a change of direction, that will result in a 1 percent across the board raise for GS employees, plus the money equal to another 0.3 percent of payroll being divided up and paid in varying amounts by locality. As things stand, another long-standing practice of paying the same raise to wage grade employees, who are under a separate locality system, would continue.
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