OPM Proposes Adding 64,000 New Federal Employees to Locality Pay

OPM is proposing to add about 64,000 federal employees to the locality pay system for GS employees.

New Locality Pay Areas Proposed

The President’s Pay Agent has agreed to issue proposed regulations to establish the four new locality pay areas.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is now issuing a proposal in the Federal Register on July 9th to add these new locality pay areas. These pay areas would impact about 62,000 federal employees. These are the proposed new locality pay areas:

  • Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL;
  • Burlington-South Burlington, VT;
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX; and
  • Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC.

According to OPM, the “[locality] pay rates for the four new locality pay areas would be set by the President at a later date after they would be established by regulation.”

The proposed changes in locality pay areas would be applicable on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2019 if the regulations are finalized as proposed.

The Federal Salary Council has previously proposed adding these areas as new locality pay areas under the federal government’s general schedule. (See Will Burlington and VA Beach Become Locality Pay Areas? and Adding Birmingham and San Antonio to Locality Pay Areas)

Updating Commuting Patterns

The Pay Agent has also agreed to a proposal using updated commuting patterns of federal employees.

Using these new criteria for evaluating “Rest of U.S.” locations as potential areas of application will add one location to an existing locality pay area. McKinley County, NM, would be included in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM, locality pay area under OPM’s proposal. This will add about 1,600 federal employees to the locality pay system for general schedule employees.

New Commuting Patterns Impact on Proposed Locality Pay Areas

Regarding the four new locality pay areas that are being proposed will also impact the proposed Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL, locality pay area. Specifically, Calhoun County, Alabama is now included in the proposed new pay area around Birmingham, Alabama.

One Change in California

A small portion of the geographic boundary of San Luis Obispo County, California, in a remote corner of the county, is not adjacent to the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, or San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA, locality pay areas.

As most of San Luis Obispo County’s land boundary is bordered by the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, and San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA, locality pay areas, the Pay Agent has agreed with the Federal Salary Council that the county should be treated as “Rest of U.S.” locations entirely bordered by separate locality pay areas have been treated.

Therefore, OPM is proposing adding San Luis Obispo County to the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA, locality pay area. This will add about 100 federal employees to the locality pay system.

The OPM proposal will open for comments on July 9th and will be open for 30 days.

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