Fedweek

The short-term impact of proposed rules to create four new GS localities and expand the boundaries of two others in January would depend on how much of a salary boost federal employees will receive that month, if any.

President Trump has recommended that no federal raise be paid in January and a House spending bill effectively endorses a freeze by setting no number. However, the counterpart Senate bill would provide a 1.9 percent raise, split as 1.4 percent across the board and the funds for the other 0.5 percentage points divided up as locality pay.

With a pay raise structured in that way, raises likely would range by locality from about 1.7 to about 2.2 percent. The estimated above 63,000 GS employees in the affected areas would see an immediate raise of perhaps several tenths of a percentage point higher than they would have received otherwise as part of the catchall “rest of the U.S.” locality. They would continue to receive slightly larger raises in future years, as well.

The most recent locality expansion occurred effective in January 2016, when 13 metro zones were created, bringing the total to the current 44, and the boundary lines of 21 of the previous localities were expanded. Those changes benefitted about 108,000 GS employees.

While that system applies only to the GS, in practice for many years wage grade employees, who are under a separate locality system, have received the same raises as GS employees in their area. The proposal contains no estimate of how many of those employees would benefit.

The changes would not affect employees under pay systems that do not include locality pay, such as the SES and other high-level systems.