The Federal Salary Council (FSC) can (and usually does) recommend changes to locality pay areas to the President’s Pay Agent. They make recommendations to incorporate new areas into existing locality pay areas or to create new GS locality pay areas when certain criteria are met. Generally, their goal is to add more people to the locality pay system and to provide higher salaries for federal employees through the locality pay system.
Adding Small and More Rural Areas to Locality Pay Areas
So, as one example, if an employee is in Westmoreland County, Virgina, this employee would be in the Washington, DC locality pay area if the FSC proposal is accepted. Those in the Washington locality pay area received a pay raise of 3.02% with an overall locality payment of 33.53% in 2022. There are no catch-up raises if Westmoreland County joins the Washington locality pay area but future raises reflecting the higher rate would add up over time. Mount Holly, VA, a town in Westmoreland County, is about a two-hour drive to Washington on a good day.
The Salary Council has been aggressive in adding new areas to be added as a new GS locality pay area or added to an existing area. While the latest proposals would not impact as many people as some earlier proposals, there are a large number of areas throughout the country that would become part of a locality pay area.
Cost of Living and GS Locality Pay Areas
Every year, FedSmith receives multiple queries from people asking questions such as “Why is [my city] not included in a locality pay area? The cost of living is very high in [my city] and it seems unfair that we do not receive locality pay.”
The reality is that GS locality pay is not based on the cost of living.
Locality pay increases are based on a comparison by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This federal agency measures non-federal compensation in a labor market and compares it to federal pay for GS employees performing similar work in the same geographic area.
BLS will, for example, compare the average salary of an engineer at a private company or state with the average salary of a federal employee who is an engineer in the same city. The pay gap between the two is a major factor in the GS locality pay adjustment for a specific area during a given year. The cost of housing or other living expenses in an area is not the major factor.
Quickly Search Jurisdictions to be Added: About 190 Counties (and Others)
The charts that follow show some of the changes recommended in their latest report. These counties or other jurisdictions would be added to existing GS locality pay areas as indicated if the recommendations are accepted by the Pay Agent. There are about 180 counties or other designated areas that would be added into GS locality pay areas.
If you are close to a locality pay area, it may be worth your time to check out the entire list. You may be surprised to see your area listed.
The effect of these changes would be to increase the salaries of about 16,000 federal employees by providing a GS locality pay rate for the existing pay area. In 2022, those in the “Rest of the US” pay area received a pay raise of 2.42%.
Many of these areas are small counties or other classifications in rural areas. Most computers will allow a search of this article for particular words (Command + F on a Mac/Control + F on a PC).
So, for example, if you are in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and are wondering if your city is being added, just do a search for “Rocky Mount” (minus the quotation marks) and you will see that your area would be added to the Raleigh, NC locality pay area. This would add a small bump to the annual salary of employees in Rocky Mount. Many of the proposed areas are relatively small and some may be surprised at being added to a locality pay area.
For most of these areas, being added to a GS locality pay area will result in at least a small increase in your federal salary.
Locations Adjacent to Multiple GS Locality Pay Areas Proposed as Areas of Application
|Location||Single-County Statistical Area (If Applicable)||Adjacent Locality Pay Areas||Recommended Locality Pay Area||Added |
|Clay County, AL||Birmingham and Atlanta||Birmingham||19|
|Schuylkill County, PA||Pottsville, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area||Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and New York||Philadelphia||317|
|Gonzales County, TX||San Antonio and Austin||San Antonio||23|
|Jim Hogg County, TX||Laredo and Corpus Christi||Laredo||237|
|Westmoreland County, VA||Washington, DC and Richmond||Washington, DC||11|
|Total GS Employees||607|
In the following chart are areas that would add another 11,859 federal employees to the GS locality pay system.
The following chart shows additional counties that would be incorporated into existing GS locality pay areas. These are “multi-county areas” that would be absorbed into existing pay areas.
Multi-County CBSAs Proposed as Areas of Application
|Pay Area||Multi-County Area||Added GS Employment|
|Atlanta, GA||Columbus-Auburn-Opelika, GA-AL CSA||3,912|
|Birmingham, AL||Tuscaloosa, AL MSA||1,263|
|Boston, MA||Lebanon, NH-VT Micropolitan Area||1,046|
|Charlotte, NC||Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA||149|
|Chicago, IL||Rockford-Freeport-Rochelle, IL CSA||239|
|Cleveland, OH||Mansfield-Ashland-Bucyrus, OH CSA||241|
|Cleveland, OH||Youngstown-Warren, OH-PA CSA||921|
|Dallas, TX||Ardmore, OK Micropolitan Area||29|
|Davenport, IA||Dixon-Sterling, IL CSA||31|
|Dayton, OH||Lima-Van Wert-Celina, OH CSA||155|
|Detroit, MI||Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA||773|
|Huntsville, AL||Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSA||103|
|Indianapolis, IN||Bloomington-Bedford, IN CSA||142|
|Indianapolis, IN||Lafayette-West Lafayette-Frankfort, IN CSA||209|
|Indianapolis, IN||Richmond-Connersville, IN CSA||42|
|Minneapolis, MN||Mankato-New Ulm, MN CSA||65|
|Minneapolis, MN||Rochester-Austin, MN CSA||489|
|Philadelphia, PA||Salisbury-Cambridge, MD-DE CSA (excludes portion already in Washington-Baltimore locality pay area)||358|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Johnstown-Somerset, PA CSA||451|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Wheeling, WV-OH MSA||211|
|Raleigh, NC||Fayetteville, NC MSA (all but Moore County, NC, is already in the Raleigh locality pay area and will remain there).||30|
|Raleigh, NC||Rocky Mount-Wilson-Roanoke Rapids, NC CSA||79|
|San Antonio, TX||Kerrville-Fredericksburg, TX CSA||324|
|Washington, DC||Cumberland, MD-WV MSA||327|
|Total GS Employees to be Added||11,859|
These counties from several different states are proposed to be added to existing GS locality pay areas.
Single County CBSAs Proposed as Areas of Application
|Pay Area||Place Name||Single-County MSA||Added GS Employment|
|Birmingham, AL||Etowah Co. AL||Gadsden, AL MSA||111|
|Detroit, MI||Jackson Co. MI||Jackson, MI MSA||57|
|Milwaukee, WI||Fond du Lac Co. WI||Fond du Lac, WI MSA||33|
|Milwaukee, WI||Sheboygan Co. WI||Sheboygan, WI MSA||12|
|Sacramento, CA||Butte Co. CA||Chico, CA MSA||264|
|Total GS Employees Impacted||477|
The Salary Council is proposing to add numerous counties into existing locality pay areas on the theory that these counties are “areas of application.” This basically means that the counties do not qualify as a locality pay area but they are close to an existing one. There are several pages of these counties that are being proposed as additions to GS locality pay areas.
|Pay Area||Place Name||Added GS Employment|
|Albany, NY||Greene Co. NY||4|
|Albany, NY||Hamilton Co. NY||1|
|Atlanta, GA||Banks Co. GA||1|
|Atlanta, GA||Cherokee Co. AL||4|
|Atlanta, GA||Cleburne Co. AL||19|
|Atlanta, GA||Elbert Co. GA||49|
|Atlanta, GA||Franklin Co. GA||3|
|Atlanta, GA||Gilmer Co. GA||31|
|Atlanta, GA||Greene Co. GA||4|
|Atlanta, GA||Lumpkin Co. GA||40|
|Atlanta, GA||Putnam Co. GA||30|
|Atlanta, GA||Rabun Co. GA||23|
|Atlanta, GA||Randolph Co. AL||5|
|Atlanta, GA||Taliaferro Co. GA||0|
|Atlanta, GA||White Co. GA||2|
|Austin, TX||Blanco Co. TX||26|
|Austin, TX||Burnet Co. TX||16|
|Austin, TX||Lee Co. TX||2|
|Austin, TX||Milam Co. TX||7|
|Birmingham, AL||Winston Co. AL||25|
|Boston, MA||Carroll Co. NH||43|
|Boston, MA||Cheshire Co. NH||37|
|Buffalo, NY||Wyoming Co. NY||8|
|Burlington, VT||Addison Co. VT||32|
|Burlington, VT||Lamoille Co. VT||2|
|Charlotte, NC||Chesterfield Co. SC||15|
|Chicago, IL||Iroquois Co. IL||4|
|Chicago, IL||Starke Co. IN||9|
|Cincinnati, OH||Adams Co. OH||1|
|Cincinnati, OH||Carroll Co. KY||7|
|Cincinnati, OH||Fleming Co. KY||7|
|Cincinnati, OH||Highland Co. OH||14|
|Cincinnati, OH||Lewis Co. KY||2|
|Cincinnati, OH||Owen Co. KY||0|
|Cincinnati, OH||Ripley Co. IN||6|
|Cincinnati, OH||Robertson Co. KY||0|
|Cincinnati, OH||Switzerland Co. IN||2|
|Cleveland, OH||Holmes Co. OH||12|
|Columbus, OH||Coshocton Co. OH||12|
|Columbus, OH||Hardin Co. OH||7|
|Columbus, OH||Morgan Co. OH||5|
|Columbus, OH||Noble Co. OH||0|
|Columbus, OH||Pike Co. OH||20|
|Columbus, OH||Vinton Co. OH||3|
|Corpus Christi, TX||Live Oak Co. TX||182|
|Pay Area||Place Name||Added GS Employment|
|Corpus Christi, TX||Refugio Co. TX||5|
|Dallas, TX||Hill Co. TX||20|
|Dallas, TX||Jack Co. TX||3|
|Dallas, TX||Montague Co. TX||5|
|Dallas, TX||Rains Co. TX||0|
|Dallas, TX||Van Zandt Co. TX||7|
|Davenport, IA||Cedar Co. IA||51|
|Davenport, IA||Jackson Co. IA||7|
|Davenport, IA||Louisa Co. IA||29|
|Denver, CO||Lincoln Co. CO||4|
|Des Moines, IA||Adair Co. IA||3|
|Des Moines, IA||Clarke Co. IA||5|
|Des Moines, IA||Greene Co. IA||3|
|Des Moines, IA||Hamilton Co. IA||12|
|Des Moines, IA||Lucas Co. IA||13|
|Des Moines, IA||Monroe Co. IA||8|
|Des Moines, IA||Poweshiek Co. IA||7|
|Detroit, MI||Sanilac Co. MI||5|
|Detroit, MI||Tuscola Co. MI||19|
|Harrisburg, PA||Juniata Co. PA||21|
|Houston, TX||Colorado Co. TX||7|
|Houston, TX||Grimes Co. TX||2|
|Houston, TX||Jackson Co. TX||6|
|Houston, TX||Madison Co. TX||1|
|Huntsville, AL||Lincoln Co. TN||3|
|Indianapolis, IN||Blackford Co. IN||1|
|Indianapolis, IN||Fountain Co. IN||4|
|Indianapolis, IN||Randolph Co. IN||3|
|Indianapolis, IN||Rush Co. IN||1|
|Indianapolis, IN||Tipton Co. IN||1|
|Kansas City, MO||Anderson Co. KS||1|
|Kansas City, MO||Carroll Co. MO||5|
|Kansas City, MO||Daviess Co. MO||4|
|Kansas City, MO||Gentry Co. MO||4|
|Kansas City, MO||Henry Co. MO||13|
|Kansas City, MO||Holt Co. MO||8|
|Laredo, TX||La Salle Co. TX||105|
|Minneapolis, MN||Kanabec Co. MN||7|
|Minneapolis, MN||Meeker Co. MN||12|
|Minneapolis, MN||Morrison Co. MN||188|
|Minneapolis, MN||Pine Co. MN||196|
|Minneapolis, MN||Polk Co. WI||24|
|Minneapolis, MN||Waseca Co. MN||167|
|New York, NY||Sullivan Co. NY||25|
|New York, NY||Wayne Co. PA||361|
|Omaha, NE||Burt Co. NE||1|
|Omaha, NE||Fremont Co. IA||4|
|Omaha, NE||Shelby Co. IA||8|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Greene Co. PA||21|
|Portland, OR||Wahkiakum Co. WA||2|
|Raleigh, NC||Caswell Co. NC||1|
|Pay Area||Place Name||Employment Interchange Rate||Added GS Employment|
|Raleigh, NC||Warren Co. NC||55.00%||2|
|Richmond, VA||Brunswick Co. VA||26.62%||4|
|Richmond, VA||Essex Co. VA||32.92%||3|
|Richmond, VA||Greensville Co. VA||23.36%||0|
|Richmond, VA||Nottoway Co. VA||42.53%||148|
|Sacramento, CA||Alpine Co. CA||41.04%||0|
|Sacramento, CA||Amador Co. CA||33.91%||24|
|Sacramento, CA||Colusa Co. CA||30.46%||20|
|Sacramento, CA||Sierra Co. CA||24.45%||25|
|San Antonio, TX||Karnes Co. TX||29.32%||55|
|San Antonio, TX||McMullen Co. TX||22.53%||1|
|San Jose, CA||Calaveras Co. CA||29.92%||46|
|Seattle, WA||Grays Harbor Co. WA||21.55%||34|
|St. Louis, MO||Crawford Co. MO||34.45%||2|
|St. Louis, MO||Fayette Co. IL||27.72%||4|
|St. Louis, MO||Gasconade Co. MO||34.02%||1|
|St. Louis, MO||Greene Co. IL||38.11%||3|
|St. Louis, MO||Iron Co. MO||33.99%||3|
|St. Louis, MO||Madison Co. MO||36.47%||4|
|St. Louis, MO||Montgomery Co. IL||36.25%||27|
|St. Louis, MO||Montgomery Co. MO||33.24%||7|
|St. Louis, MO||Pike Co. MO||22.35%||9|
|St. Louis, MO||Randolph Co. IL||30.55%||10|
|St. Louis, MO||Ste. Genevieve Co. MO||51.91%||5|
|St. Louis, MO||Washington Co. IL||52.11%||6|
|St. Louis, MO||Washington Co. MO||68.47%||32|
|Virginia Beach, VA||Chowan Co. NC||49.53%||11|
|Virginia Beach, VA||Hertford Co. NC||21.97%||16|
|Virginia Beach, VA||Middlesex Co. VA||36.78%||1|
|Virginia Beach, VA||Surry Co. VA||76.16%||1|
|Washington, DC||Caroline Co. MD||58.41%||8|
|Washington, DC||Fulton Co. PA||54.21%||2|
|Washington, DC||Hardy Co. WV||26.63%||27|
|Washington, DC||Orange Co. VA||63.79%||15|
|Washington, DC||Shenandoah Co. VA||41.31%||51|
|Total GS Employees Impacted||2742|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CBSA?
Core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) or counties that are adjacent to the basic locality pay area as potential areas of application.
What is an Employment Interchange Rate?
The “employment interchange rate” is the sum of (1) the percentage of employed residents of the area under consideration for a locality pay area and who work in the basic locality pay area and (2) the percentage of employment in the area under consideration that is accounted for by workers who reside in the basic locality pay area.
What is a locality pay area and an area of application?
Locality pay areas consist of (1) a main metropolitan area defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and forming the basic locality pay area and, where criteria recommended by the Federal Salary Council and approved by the President’s Pay Agent are met, (2) areas of application.
Areas of application are locations that are adjacent to the basic locality pay area and meet approved criteria for inclusion in the locality pay area.
How is GS Locality Pay Calculated?
Each GS Locality Pay Area has a locality pay percentage. This percentage is usually updated each year. This percentage specifies how much over the GS Base Pay government employees working within that locality will earn.
Where Do I Find the Locality Pay Percentage?
The locality pay percentage is posted at the top of the pay table for each locality pay area. Here is an example for 2022: “INCORPORATING THE 2.2% GENERAL SCHEDULE INCREASE AND A LOCALITY PAYMENT OF 18.68%”.
This means that 2.2% was added to the GS Base Pay Table for the Albany, NY locality pay area in 2022. The 18.68% means that this percentage has been added over time to the base pay table for this locality pay area.