Pay Freeze Stands for 2019

Because Congress has not overridden the president’s proposed pay freeze, and an Executive Order has been issued freezing pay, no raise is expected in 2019.

The pay freeze that the White House originally proposed earlier this year will stand for 2019, at least for now. President Trump issued an Executive Order to this effect late on Friday, December 28, 2018. While the Executive Order does not spell out the pay freeze, that is the result.

In the pay tables issued by OPM, the heading at the top reads: “RATES FROZEN AT 2018 LEVELS”.

Congress can override the president’s proposal for a pay adjustment for federal employees in any given year. Congress took some action to do that for 2019 with the Senate approving a 1.9% pay raise in a budget bill that it passed. The House never included the pay raise in a spending bill, however, there was reportedly an agreement at one time between the House and Senate on a pay raise in 2019.

The partial government shutdown that ensued just before Christmas took away the attention of Congress on any kind of pay raise. While there is no definitive answer, for now, the Congressional dispute may have reduced the chances of Congress adding one to a future spending bill. While it could happen in 2019, the pay freeze that was proposed early this year will apparently be in place heading into 2019.

The Office of Personnel Management has issued pay tables for 2019. As noted above, these tables make it clear the 2018 pay tables have not changed as there is no pay raise to incorporate.

New Locality Pay Areas

One change that is in the new General Schedule pay schedule is the addition of six new locality pay areas that OPM announced would take effect in 2019. Locality pay areas have been added for the following:

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

According to the OPM pay information, the pay for employees in these new areas has not changed for 2019. For example, in 2018, an employee at GS11/Step 10 in San Antonio, TX,  Birmingham, AL, Virginia Beach, VA, and Burlington, VT made $79,586. For 2019, the rate of pay in these areas for this grade and step will still be $79,586.

In effect, the pay rates for these new locality pay areas for 2019 will be the same as the “rest of the U.S.” for these new locality pay areas. Presumably, there will be an increase of some amount for the employees in these areas when there is a new pay raise in the future.

EO on 2019 Pay Rates

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