New Locality Pay Areas? Not in 2014

Despite the recommendations of the Federal Salary Council, locality pay areas will be the same in 2014 as they were in 2013.

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.)

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. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47