New Locality Pay Areas? Not in 2014

By on December 26, 2013 in Current Events, Pay & Benefits with 17 Comments

We wrote some time ago that plans were in the works to add a number of locality pay areas for the federal government beginning in January 2014. But, unfortunately for those workers who are in these new locality areas (listed below), that is not going to happen.

In a memo from the Federal Salary Council issued late in 2012, the recommendation was that “since there are only 12 areas meeting the criteria, we believe they could all be introduced at once in 2014 provided adequate funding for locality pay increases in 2014.” The Federal Salary Council membership consists primarily of federal employee unions and several experts in labor relations and, in effect, provides recommendations to the President’s Pay Agent.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has now posted a notice that reads: “All locality pay areas and definitions for 2014 are the same as those in effect in 2013.” This same OPM document lists the locality pay areas for 2014. In effect, there will not be changes to the locality pay areas in 2014. The FedSmith pay calculator provides the current rates, including locality pay differentials, for 2014.

In addition, according to OPM, “The locality pay percentages continued for non-GS employees have not been increased in 2014.”

The President’s Pay Agent agreed with the recommendation of the Federal Salary Council to add the 12 new locality pay areas. But, apparently, the regulatory policies needed to implement the new locality pay areas were not in place in time to implement them for 2014. Our attempts to obtain more information or clarification from OPM over a couple of weeks on the locality pay issue were futile.

The Secretary of Labor and the Directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management serve as the President’s Pay Agent.

Under the President’s alternative pay plan for 2014, locality pay percentages will continue at the same rates that were in effect since 2010 for these Governmentwide categories.

  1. Administrative law judges (ALJs) paid under 5 U.S.C. 5372.
  2. Administrative appeals judges (AAJs) paid under 5 U.S.C. 5372b.
  3. Members of Boards of Contract Appeals (BCA) paid under 5 U.S.C. 5372a.
  4. Members of the Foreign Service paid under 22 U.S.C. 3963.
  5. Members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) or employees covered by Senior Level (SL) or Scientific and Professional (ST) pay systems with official worksites in a nonforeign area (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 5941) on the day before the first day of the first pay period that began on or after January 1, 2010.

Here are the pay tables with locality pay for several different federal job categories:

The locality pay areas that were going to be added in 2014, but now will apparently be implemented in 2015, are as outlined by the Federal Salary Council:

Area March 2012 GS Base Payroll Pay Gap Recommended locality rate (target pay gap)
Albany $166,730,596 55.34% 47.94%
Albuquerque $510,495,966 45.88% 38.93%
Austin $366,557,509 51.17% 43.97%
Charlotte $168,635,266 47.85% 40.81%
Colorado Springs $561,339,429 52.99% 45.70%
Davenport $266,360,779 46.44% 39.47%
Harrisburg $413,576,464 52.18% 44.93%
Laredo $169,685,744 64.25% 56.43%
Las Vegas $275,731,172 60.41% 52.77%
Palm Bay $309,775,047 48.75% 41.67%
St. Louis $783,335,734 52.34% 45.09%
Tucson $491,018,021 50.52% 43.35%
Subtotal $4,483,241,727 51.67%
Rest of U.S. $34,307,554,189 40.13% 33.46%
Adjusted RUS $29,824,312,462 38.40% 31.81

Note that the “pay gap” and the “target pay gap” in this table are from the Federal Salary Council. Other studies of federal pay have resulted in “pay gap” figures that are substantially different than those that are published by the Federal Salary Council. (See The Politics of Federal Pay Rates and GAO: Federal Pay Studies Vary Widely for a quick summary.)

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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  1. IH says:

    Help
    signing the petition to make the President hear the Federal Employees. The Pay Agent approved the new locality pay
    areas because they are badly needed and we need to get our voiced heard. Please sign the petition, so the President
    may hear it..

    http://wh.gov/icOKQ

  2. Helpmeout says:

    Is this ever going to happen? I mean we are in 2014 now, they have the entire year to get the new salary tables in place, what i want to know is this….

    WILL IT HAPPEN? The article makes it sound like it is already approved but they didn’t have time to implement this in 2014 so, from how i read this, they don’t need approval in 2014, just the whole year to make it happen? Is that correct?

  3. Johnny Crow says:

    Can someone please explain this chart to me. Take Las Vegas for Example are they really recommending a 52.77% locality pay. It is currently the base which is 14.16% or am I just not reading this right?

    • MarkRonson says:

      The 52.77% number is not the locality rate, but rather the new target pay gap between private employees and fed employees.The chart is showing that currently, Las Vegas fed employees have a 60.41% gap, and with the proposed locality rate raise, they will only have a 52.77% gap. So. more or less, your pay would increase about 7%…that’s not the exact rate but it would be somewhat close to that.

  4. El Mac says:

    I’m calling BS. We will never see this increase.

  5. 34rikr7 says:

    I wonder what happened to the other recommendations the federal salary council has made in adding areas to the already defined pay areas?

  6. CUBSBUCS17 says:

    do you know how the calculations are determined from this data and applied to the pay tables? For example, in the chart above, RUS show 33.46% target pay gap. When you look at the charts on OPM, RUS shows INCORPORATING THE 1% GENERAL SCHEDULE INCREASE AND A LOCALITY PAYMENT OF 14.16%. How did they calculate the 14.16?

  7. Frank Ramsey says:

    Sanity check. The so-called “cut” would have no effect on military retirees 62 and over. Consider:

    1. The military pension is half-pay.
    2. It starts as soon as he retires, which is after just 20 years service, meaning he can be as young
    as 38.
    3. It lasts the rest of his life, which might easily be 40 years, or more.
    4. It even includes a COLA every year, on a pension being paid to a young man who is probably
    working another, full-time job during his “retirement” years from the military. Such a person has
    no real need for a COLA.
    5. The retiree paid $0.0 for all this. Think of it. His monetary contribution is NOTHING.

    Now, the “down” side to all the above is, per the law change, his COLA in his pre-age 62 years will be slightly smaller. But he won’t notice, because he will be busy working at his post-military job.

    Give me a break! The military pension is extremely lucrative, both before and after the modest COLA change.

    • grannybunny says:

      What does this have to do with locality pay?

    • CHUHI says:

      I wouldn’t call the military retirement lucrative otherwise why do military retirees continue to work after their retirement? I think if anything it allows them to be more selective in their employment after retirement.

    • Fedman says:

      Lucrative are you kidding me 20 years and half their pay. What about the disable vets who cant work. Plus whats this have to do with locality pay

    • eyecurdum says:

      “The retiree paid $0.0 for all this.”
      Seriously??? Why do you think every young person doesn’t sign up for the military? Because of the sacrifices they would be asked to make. You obviously never served a day in uniform nor do you understand what out military members give up and the sacrifices they make. When was the last time your boss told you to pack your bags and be prepared to not see your family for at least a year, that is if you make it back alive????

    • El Mac says:

      Yo Frankie….you could have signed up and took the oath too. But you didn’t. Stop whining.

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