Rules have been formally proposed to carry out an expansion of the GS locality pay program that has been under consideration for several years, to create a new locality in the Des Moines, Iowa, area and to add Imperial County, Calif., to the Los Angeles area.
In both cases, affected employees would be moving out of the lowest-paid of the localities, the catchall “rest of the U.S.” for locations outside a designated city area (Alaska and Hawaii also are separate localities in their entirety). That would result in slightly larger annual raises in years where there is a locality component to the January federal pay raise—an issue that has yet to be decided for 2021.
The rules proposal was published on behalf of the President’s Pay Agent—consisting of the heads of Labor, OPM and OMB—based on recommendations by the Federal Salary Council. That group found that the Des Moines area met the standards for creating a new locality—including factors such as numbers of federal employees and the local pay gap with the private sector—and that Imperial County should be attached to the adjacent Los Angeles zone based on factors including commuting patterns.
The most recent expansion of the program occurred effective in January 2019 with the creation of new five new localities and the broadening of two others. Before that, in 2016 13 localities were created and the boundaries of numerous others were broadened.