More than 63,000 GS employees would receive a special pay increase through the creation of four new localities–in the Birmingham, Ala. (pictured above), Burlington, Vt., San Antonio, and Virginia Beach, Va., areas—and the expansion of two existing localities–Los Angeles and Albuquerque–under rules proposed by OPM.

Affected employees would be moved, effective in January, out of the catchall “rest of the U.S.” locality applying outside of the metropolitan zones with their own locality rates and would instead receive raises based on the indicated pay gaps with the private sector in their area. Thus, they would receive a raise higher than the raise paid in the RUS locality, which is the lowest-paid by definition (note: Alaska and Hawaii are separate localities in their entirety; the RUS rate applies to U.S. territories and possessions).

The rules would carry out a recommendation that Federal Salary Council has made for several years, based on findings that the pay gaps in those four areas exceeded the RUS pay gap by more than a triggering amount for enough years. Boundary lines would follow standard government measures of metropolitan areas; about 62,000 employees total in those four areas would benefit, OPM said.

The proposed rules in the Federal Register of Monday (July 9), which are open for a 30-day comment period, also would add McKinley County, N.M., to the Albuquerque locality and San Luis Obispo County, Calif., to the Los Angeles area. Those changes would benefit about 1,600 and about 100 employees, respectively, and also would be effective in January.

The proposal meanwhile does not address a recommendation raised at a recent meeting of the salary council to also create new localities for the Corpus Christi and Omaha areas. It is possible that they will be added later in the process.