2022 Locality Pay: Winners and Losers

Which locality pay areas received the highest—and lowest—pay raise in 2022? Here is the list.

President Biden has issued an Executive Order on the 2022 federal pay raise and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced the locality pay for each pay area in the United States.

Which areas received the highest pay raise in 2022 and which areas received the lowest raise?

Seattle Comes Out on Top in Locality Pay

Larger metropolitan areas often receive higher locality pay raises, but it is clearly not a direct correlation. In 2022, federal employees in the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington areas come out ahead of all the others with a raise of 3.21%.

For those who were expecting to see California cities come out at the top of the list, there are reasons to be happy. In the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots on the list of highest federal pay raises in 2022 are locality areas in California.

SAN JOSE-SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND, CA3.14%
LOS ANGELES-LONG BEACH, CA3.13%
SAN DIEGO-CARLSBAD, CA3.07%

Washington, DC has the highest overall average general schedule grade level in government. As of September 2021, the average federal GS grade in the Washington, DC core based statistical area was 12.67. The average GS grade overall was 10.48.

At the end of September 2021, the average salary for federal employees throughout the world was $93,773. This is different from the average annual salary for full-time permanent employees which was $93,075 (including locality pay).

The average federal employee salary as of September 2021 was $93,075 according to OPM. The average federal employee salary in Washington, DC was $129,412.

For locality pay purposes, the Washington, DC area did not come out on top. With a pay raise in 2022 of 3.02%, Washington, DC, and New York City locality pay areas were tied for 7th place.

Areas With Lowest Locality Pay Raise

What about the other end of the pay scale? In other words, which locality pay areas did not fare as well in the 2022 pay raise?

The “Rest of the United States” locality area usually comes in last. 2022 is no exception. With a pay raise of 2.42%, the “Rest of the U.S.” is at the bottom of the list.

Here are the next four areas on the bottom of the list and the percentage increase in the 2022 pay raise:

CORPUS CHRISTI-KINGSVILLE-ALICE, TX2.43%
MIAMI-FORT LAUDERDALE-PORT ST. LUCIE, FL2.44%
PALM BAY-MELBOURNE-TITUSVILLE, FL2.45%
INDIANAPOLIS-CARMEL-MUNCIE, IN2.5%
MILWAUKEE-RACINE-WAUKESHA, WI2.5%

Alphabetical Listing of All Locality Pay Areas and 2022 Pay Raise

Locality Pay Area2022 Pay Raise
ALBANY-SCHENECTADY, NY-MA2.89%
ALBUQUERQUE-SANTA FE-LAS VEGAS, NM2.60%
ATLANTA–ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY–SANDY SPRINGS, GA-AL2.60%
AUSTIN-ROUND ROCK, TX2.74%
BIRMINGHAM-HOOVER-TALLADEGA, AL2.68%
BOSTON-WORCESTER-PROVIDENCE, MA-RI-NH-ME2.98%
BUFFALO-CHEEKTOWAGA, NY2.69%
BURLINGTON-SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT2.84%
CHARLOTTE-CONCORD, NC-SC2.74%
CHICAGO-NAPERVILLE, IL-IN-WI2.67%
CINCINNATI-WILMINGTON-MAYSVILLE, OH-KY-IN2.53%
CLEVELAND-AKRON-CANTON, OH2.56%
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO2.76%
COLUMBUS-MARION-ZANESVILLE, OH2.77%
CORPUS CHRISTI-KINGSVILLE-ALICE, TX2.43%
DALLAS-FORT WORTH, TX-OK2.77%
DAVENPORT-MOLINE, IA-IL2.67%
DAYTON-SPRINGFIELD-SIDNEY, OH2.84%
DENVER-AURORA, CO2.98%
DES MOINES-AMES-WEST DES MOINES, IA2.70%
DETROIT-WARREN-ANN ARBOR, MI2.63%
HARRISBURG-LEBANON, PA2.81%
HARTFORD-WEST HARTFORD, CT-MA2.76%
HOUSTON-THE WOODLANDS, TX2.69%
HUNTSVILLE-DECATUR-ALBERTVILLE, AL2.71%
INDIANAPOLIS-CARMEL-MUNCIE, IN2.5%
KANSAS CITY-OVERLAND PARK-KANSAS CITY, MO-KS2.67%
LAREDO, TX3.03%
LAS VEGAS-HENDERSON, NV-AZ2.7%
LOS ANGELES-LONG BEACH, CA3.13%
MIAMI-FORT LAUDERDALE-PORT ST. LUCIE, FL2.44%
MILWAUKEE-RACINE-WAUKESHA, WI2.5%
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN-WI2.88%
NEW YORK-NEWARK, NY-NJ-CT-PA3.02%
OMAHA-COUNCIL BLUFFS-FREMONT, NE-IA2.73%
PALM BAY-MELBOURNE-TITUSVILLE, FL2.45%
PHILADELPHIA-READING-CAMDEN, PA-NJ-DE-MD2.94%
PHOENIX-MESA-SCOTTSDALE, AZ2.81%
PITTSBURGH-NEW CASTLE-WEIRTON, PA-OH-WV2.63%
PORTLAND-VANCOUVER-SALEM, OR-WA2.70%
RALEIGH-DURHAM-CHAPEL HILL, NC2.58%
REST OF UNITED STATES2.42%
RICHMOND, VA2.79%
SACRAMENTO-ROSEVILLE, CA-NV2.95%
SAN ANTONIO-NEW BRAUNFELS-PEARSALL, TX2.74%
SAN DIEGO-CARLSBAD, CA3.07%
SAN JOSE-SAN FRANCISCO-OAKLAND, CA3.14%
SEATTLE-TACOMA, WA3.21%
ST. LOUIS-ST. CHARLES-FARMINGTON, MO-IL2.81%
STATE OF ALASKA2.79%
STATE OF HAWAII2.92%
TUCSON-NOGALES, AZ2.71%
VIRGINIA BEACH-NORFOLK, VA-NC2.79%
WASHINGTON-BALTIMORE-ARLINGTON, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA3.02%

How is Locality Pay Determined?

According to OPM, here is how the locality pay system raises are determined:

  • The law requires a two-part GS pay adjustment in January each year with pay adjustments based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Based on legal requirements, BLS conducts locality pay surveys in geographic areas designated by the President’s Pay Agent as locality pay areas, with survey data representing non-Federal salaries (including State and local) at distinct levels of work.
  • Since a distinct work-level to work-level pay comparison is required, beginning pay rates for GS jobs must be compared to beginning pay rates for non-Federal jobs at the same level of work, etc.
  • In the locality pay program, Federal pay is compared to non-Federal pay for the same levels of work. The results of such pay comparisons can be found in annual recommendations of the Federal Salary Council and in annual reports of the President’s Pay Agent.

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