Proposals, some of them dating back several years, to add new GS localities remain in progress, with implementing rules now in the draft stage, OPM officials have said.
The rules would carry out Federal Salary Council recommendations to create additional localities in the Burlington, Vt., Norfolk, Va., Birmingham, Ala., and San Antonio areas; those recommendations have been pending for several years and have been tentatively approved by the President’s Pay Agent, although formal rule-making is needed to put them in place.
At the council’s recent meeting, it also endorsed creating localities in the Corpus Christi, Texas, and Omaha areas, based on data showing that pay gaps with the private sector in those areas also exceed thresholds the council uses to determine if an area should have its own locality rate. It further endorsed adding McKinley County, N.M. to the Albuquerque locality, and adding San Louis Obispo County, Calif., to the Los Angeles area. It was unclear whether those further changes would become part of the upcoming proposed rules or would be added later.
When a new locality is created or when they are added to an existing one, affected employees receive a boost in pay since they move from the lowest-paid locality—the “rest of the U.S.” area outside of the metropolitan areas—to an area with its own rate, which is higher by definition. That most recently happened in 2016, when 13 new city areas began and the boundaries of most of the 31 pre-existing localities were expanded, benefitting some 110,000 employees.
It was not stated how many federal employees might benefit from the planned changes, although the number likely would be in the tens of thousands, considering the federal presence in the Norfolk area alone.
See also, 2018 GS Locality Pay Tables
While officials said the goal is to make those changes effective as of January 2019, if federal pay rates are frozen as the White House has proposed, there would be no immediate benefit to employees.