The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a final regulation in the Federal Register that will directly impact approximately 33,300 GS employees. These regulations become effective on December 18, 2023. The regulations are applicable for pay purposes on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2024.
Adding More Than 33,000 New Employees to Locality Pay System
The publication of this notice means locality pay will be applied to more than 33,000 additional federal employees in January. The changes to existing locality pay areas will affect approximately 17,100 General Schedule (GS) employees, and establishing the four new locality pay areas will affect about 16,200 GS employees.
Many of these 33,000+ employees will be curious to learn their new pay rates now that they have been added to the locality pay system. That information is not in the latest OPM notice. The pay tables for the next year, including for each locality pay area, are typically posted late in December when the president’s executive order is issued finalizing the federal employee pay raise for the following year.
Four New Locality Pay Areas Added
For 2024, four new locality pay areas have been established by the final regulations. These are:
- Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA;
- Reno-Fernley, NV;
- Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY; and
- Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene, WA-ID.
The President will set locality pay rates for these four areas. This usually occurs in late December.
With this new regulation, there are now 57 locality pay areas. Here is a listing and description of each locality pay area for 2024. Numerous changes have been made to existing locality pay areas. There is a complete listing of these multiple changes in this article.
Does A Locality Pay Area Make Much Difference in Pay?
Based on past readers’ comments, some people will be disappointed about their new locality pay rate. In the past, some thought they would immediately receive a pay raise of 10% – 20% after being included in the locality pay area. That does not happen. Being added to a locality pay area does not provide a person with retroactive pay as if you had been in a locality pay area for many years. If that is your expectation, prepare to be disappointed.
Over time, being added to a locality pay area can, and probably will, make a significant difference in a federal employee’s salary.
Here is one example. In 2016, GS locality pay areas jumped from 33 to 46. This was a 39% increase in locality pay areas at that time.
The table below is an example of how five relatively new GS locality pay areas fared after being included in the locality pay system.
Also, for comparison, we added two of the highest locality pay areas, Washington, DC, and the San Jose-San Francisco locality pay areas.
How did the average salary for employees in these new locality areas fare compared to the “Rest of the U.S.”?
As is often the case, the Washington-Baltimore and San Jose-San Francisco locality pay areas received the highest salary increase. They had an overall increase of 22.3%.
The locality pay areas all received a more significant raise than the “Rest of the US” category, up 17.77%. The lowest increase in the new pay areas was in Palm Bay, Florida, with a rise of 18.48%. The most significant growth among the new pay areas was in Albany, New York, with a rise of 20.33%.
|Pay Area||2015 Raise||2016 Raise||2017 Raise||2018 Raise||2019 Raise||2020 Raise||2021 Raise||2022 Raise||2023 Raise||Total|
|Palm Bay, FL||1%||1.23%||1.94%||1.80%||1.75%||2.95%||1%||2.45%||4.36%||18.48%|
|Las Vegas, NV||1%||1.35%||2.22%||1.89%||1.88%||3.16%||1%||2.7%||4.55%||19.75%|
|Rest of US||1%||1.17%||1.63%||1.67%||1.66%||2.85%||1%||2.42%||4.37%||17.77%|
Comparing Pay Differences for a GS-12, Step 9 in Selected Areas
For further comparison, we selected a federal employee at a pay grade of GS-12, step 9 for the same time period (2015-2023).
Other increases were relatively small compared to federal employees in the Washington (41%) and San Francisco (53%) locality pay areas. The pay raises in the San Francisco and Washington, DC locality pay areas are frequently among the highest each year. Over time, this differential makes a significant difference.
From 2015-2023, the percentage difference in the increase for the Rest of the U.S. ($16,004) and the San Jose-San Francisco locality pay area ($22,569) was 53%. The percentage difference in the increase for the Washington, DC area over the Rest of the U.S. was about 41% for this period for a GS 12, Step 9.
|Locality Area||Increase in Differential Over “Rest of the U.S.“|
|Palm Bay, FL||4.50%|
|Las Vegas, NV||12.72%|
|San Jose–San Francisco, CA||53.44%|
The actions of the internal federal pay bureaucracy have made a big difference in the pay of federal employees. New locality pay areas are frequently added based on actions by the Federal Salary Council and the President’s Pay Agent. Their decisions are implemented by OPM. Congressional approval is not required.
The Washington, DC locality pay area now includes federal employees from a number of states. This is how the DC locality pay is now defined:
Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA—consisting of the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA CSA and also including Allegany County, MD, Caroline County, MD, Dorchester County, MD, Kent County, MD, Adams County, PA, Fulton County, PA, York County, PA, Caroline County, VA, King George County, VA, Orange County, VA, Shenandoah County, VA, Westmoreland County, VA, Hardy County, WV, and Mineral County, WV
In effect, the Washington area now consists of federal employees in portions of four states as well as the District of Columbia. All GS employees in these areas will benefit from the higher locality pay for the Washington, DC area.
Note on Caroline County, VA
The new locality pay areas will impact federal employees in Caroline County, Virginia in 2024. Caroline County, Virginia was located in the Richmond, Virginia locality pay area. For 2024, it will be included in the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA locality pay area. Carolina County is about 87 miles south of Washington, DC.
Caroline County is about 46 miles from Richmond, Virginia but a number of employees there work in Washington. How many of these are “teleworking” or how often they report to the office in Washington, DC was not noted in the proposed change notice.
2024 Locality Pay Areas
Here are the 2024 GS locality pay areas that will receive locality pay in January 2024.
(1) Alaska—consisting of the State of Alaska;
(2) Albany-Schenectady, NY-MA—consisting of the Albany-Schenectady, NY CSA and also including Berkshire County, MA, Greene County, NY, and Hamilton County, NY;
(3) Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM—consisting of the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM CSA and also including Cibola County, NM, and McKinley County, NM;
(4) Atlanta—Athens-Clarke County—Sandy Springs, GA-AL—consisting of the Atlanta—Athens-Clarke County—Sandy Springs, GA-AL CSA and also including Cherokee County, AL, Cleburne County, AL, Lee County, AL, Randolph County, AL, Russell County, AL, Banks County, GA, Chattahoochee County, GA, Elbert County, GA, Franklin County, GA, Gilmer County, GA, Gordon County, GA, Greene County, GA, Harris County, GA, Lumpkin County, GA, Marion County, GA, Muscogee County, GA, Putnam County, GA, Rabun County, GA, Stewart County, GA, Talbot County, GA, Taliaferro County, GA, and White County, GA;
(5) Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX—consisting of the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX MSA and also including Blanco County, TX, Burnet County, TX, Lee County, TX, and Milam County, TX;
(6) Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL—consisting of the Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL CSA and also including Calhoun County, AL, Clay County, AL, Coosa County, AL, Etowah County, AL, Greene County, AL, Hale County, AL, Pickens County, AL, Tallapoosa County, AL, Tuscaloosa County, AL, and Winston County, AL;
(7) Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT-ME-VT—consisting of the Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT CSA and also including Androscoggin County, ME, Cumberland County, ME, Sagadahoc County, ME, York County, ME, Dukes County, MA, Nantucket County, MA, Carroll County, NH, Cheshire County, NH, Grafton County, NH, Sullivan County, NH, Orange County, VT, and Windsor County, VT;
(8) Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Olean, NY—consisting of the Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Olean, NY CSA and also including Allegany County, NY, and Wyoming County, NY;
(9) Burlington-South Burlington-Barre, VT—consisting of the Burlington-South Burlington-Barre, VT CSA and also including Addison County, VT, and Lamoille County, VT;
(10) Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC—consisting of the Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC CSA and also including Alexander County, NC, Burke County, NC, Caldwell County, NC, Catawba County, NC, and Chesterfield County, SC;
(11) Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI—consisting of the Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI CSA and also including Boone County, IL, Iroquois County, IL, Ogle County, IL, Stephenson County, IL, Winnebago County, IL, and Starke County, IN;
(12) Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN—consisting of the Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville, OH-KY-IN CSA and also including Ripley County, IN, Switzerland County, IN, Carroll County, KY, Fleming County, KY, Lewis County, KY, Owen County, KY, Robertson County, KY, Adams County, OH, and Highland County, OH;
(13) Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH-PA—consisting of the Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH CSA and also including Ashland County, OH, Columbiana County, OH, Crawford County, OH, Harrison County, OH, Holmes County, OH, Mahoning County, OH, Richland County, OH, Trumbull County, OH, and Mercer County, PA;
(14) Colorado Springs, CO—consisting of the Colorado Springs, CO MSA and also including Fremont County, CO, and Pueblo County, CO;
(15) Columbus-Marion-Zanesville, OH—consisting of the Columbus-Marion-Zanesville, OH CSA and also including Coshocton County, OH, Hardin County, OH, Morgan County, OH, Noble County, OH, Pike County, OH, and Vinton County, OH;
(16) Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice, TX—consisting of the Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice, TX CSA and also including Brooks County, TX, Live Oak County, TX, and Refugio County, TX;
(17) Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK—consisting of the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK CSA and also including Carter County, OK, Love County, OK, Delta County, TX, Hill County, TX, Hopkins County, TX, Jack County, TX, Montague County, TX, Rains County, TX, Somervell County, TX, and Van Zandt County, TX;
(18) Davenport-Moline, IA-IL—consisting of the Davenport-Moline, IA-IL CSA and also including Carroll County, IL, Lee County, IL, Whiteside County, IL, Cedar County, IA, Jackson County, IA, and Louisa County, IA;
(19) Dayton-Springfield-Kettering, OH—consisting of the Dayton-Springfield-Kettering, OH CSA and also including Allen County, OH, Auglaize County, OH, Mercer County, OH, Preble County, OH, and Van Wert County, OH;
(20) Denver-Aurora, CO—consisting of the Denver-Aurora, CO CSA and also including Larimer County, CO, and Lincoln County, CO;
(21) Des Moines-Ames-West Des Moines, IA—consisting of the Des Moines-Ames-West Des Moines, IA CSA and also including Adair County, IA, Clarke County, IA, Greene County, IA, Hamilton County, IA, Lucas County, IA, Monroe County, IA, and Poweshiek County, IA;
(22) Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI—consisting of the Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor, MI CSA and also including Clinton County, MI, Eaton County, MI, Huron County, MI, Ingham County, MI, Jackson County, MI, Sanilac County, MI, Shiawassee County, MI, and Tuscola County, MI;
(23) Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA—consisting of the Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA CSA and also including Mariposa County, CA, and Tulare County, CA;
(24) Harrisburg-Lebanon, PA—consisting of the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon, PA CSA, except for Adams County, PA, and York County, PA, and also including Juniata County, PA, and Lancaster County, PA;
(25) Hartford-East Hartford, CT-MA—consisting of the Hartford-East Hartford, CT CSA and also including Franklin County, MA, Hampden County, MA, and Hampshire County, MA;
(26) Hawaii—consisting of the State of Hawaii;
(27) Houston-The Woodlands, TX—consisting of the Houston-The Woodlands, TX CSA and also including Colorado County, TX, Grimes County, TX, Jackson County, TX, Madison County, TX, San Jacinto County, TX, and Trinity County, TX;
(28) Huntsville-Decatur, AL-TN—consisting of the Huntsville-Decatur, AL CSA and also including Colbert County, AL, DeKalb County, AL, Lauderdale County, AL, Marshall County, AL, and Lincoln County, TN;
(29) Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie, IN—consisting of the Indianapolis-Carmel-Muncie, IN CSA and also including Benton County, IN, Blackford County, IN, Carroll County, IN, Clinton County, IN, Fayette County, IN, Fountain County, IN, Grant County, IN, Lawrence County, IN, Monroe County, IN, Owen County, IN, Randolph County, IN, Rush County, IN, Tippecanoe County, IN, Tipton County, IN, Warren County, IN, and Wayne County, IN;
(30) Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City, MO-KS—consisting of the Kansas City-Overland Park-Kansas City, MO-KS CSA and also including Anderson County, KS, Jackson County, KS, Jefferson County, KS, Osage County, KS, Shawnee County, KS, Wabaunsee County, KS, Carroll County, MO, Daviess County, MO, Gentry County, MO, Henry County, MO, and Holt County, MO;
(31) Laredo, TX—consisting of the Laredo, TX MSA and also including Jim Hogg County, TX, and La Salle County, TX;
(32) Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ—consisting of the Las Vegas-Henderson, NV CSA and also including Mohave County, AZ;
(33) Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA—consisting of the Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA CSA and also including Imperial County, CA, Kern County, CA, San Luis Obispo County, CA, and Santa Barbara County, CA;
(34) Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale, FL—consisting of the Miami-Port St. Lucie-Fort Lauderdale, FL CSA and also including Okeechobee County, FL;
(35) Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha, WI—consisting of the Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha, WI CSA and also including Fond du Lac County, WI, and Sheboygan County, WI;
(36) Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI—consisting of the Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI CSA and also including Blue Earth County, MN, Brown County, MN, Dodge County, MN, Fillmore County, MN, Kanabec County, MN, Meeker County, MN, Morrison County, MN, Mower County, MN, Nicollet County, MN, Olmsted County, MN, Pine County, MN, Sibley County, MN, Wabasha County, MN, Waseca County, MN, and Polk County, WI;
(37) New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA—consisting of the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA and also including Warren County, NJ, Sullivan County, NY, Carbon County, PA, Lehigh County, PA, Northampton County, PA, Wayne County, PA, and all of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst;
(38) Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont, NE-IA—consisting of the Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont, NE-IA CSA and also including Fremont County, IA, Shelby County, IA, and Burt County, NE;
(39) Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL—consisting of the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL MSA;
(40) Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD—consisting of the Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD CSA, except for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and also including Sussex County, DE, Somerset County, MD, Wicomico County, MD, Worcester County, MD, and Schuylkill County, PA;
(41) Phoenix-Mesa, AZ—consisting of the Phoenix-Mesa, AZ CSA;
(42) Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV—consisting of the Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV CSA and also including Belmont County, OH, Cambria County, PA, Greene County, PA, Somerset County, PA, Marshall County, WV, and Ohio County, WV;
(43) Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA—consisting of the Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA CSA and also including Wahkiakum County, WA;
(44) Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC—consisting of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC CSA and also including Caswell County, NC, Cumberland County, NC, Edgecombe County, NC, Halifax County, NC, Harnett County, NC, Hoke County, NC, Lee County, NC, Moore County, NC, Nash County, NC, Northampton County, NC, Robeson County, NC, Scotland County, NC, Warren County, NC, Wayne County, NC, and Wilson County, NC;
(45) Reno-Fernley, NV—consisting of the Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV CSA, except for Carson City, NV, and Douglas County, NV, and also including Churchill County, NV;
(46) Richmond, VA—consisting of the Richmond, VA MSA and also including Brunswick County, VA, Cumberland County, VA, Essex County, VA, Greensville County, VA, Louisa County, VA, Nottoway County, VA, and Emporia city, VA;
(47) Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY—consisting of the Rochester-Batavia-Seneca Falls, NY CSA;
(48) Sacramento-Roseville, CA-—consisting of the Sacramento-Roseville, CA CSA and also including Alpine County, CA, Amador County, CA, Butte County, CA, Colusa County, CA, Sierra County, CA, Carson City, NV, and Douglas County, NV;
(49) San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX—consisting of the San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX CSA and also including Gillespie County, TX, Gonzales County, TX, Karnes County, TX, Kerr County, TX, and McMullen County, TX;
(50) San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA—consisting of the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA MSA;
(51) San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA—consisting of the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA CSA and also including Calaveras County, CA, and Monterey County, CA;
(52) Seattle-Tacoma, WA—consisting of the Seattle-Tacoma, WA CSA and also including Clallam County, WA, Grays Harbor County, WA, Jefferson County, WA, Pacific County, WA, San Juan County, WA, and Whatcom County, WA;
(53) Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene, WA-ID—consisting of the Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene, WA-ID CSA and also including Benewah County, ID, Shoshone County, ID, Ferry County, WA, Lincoln County, WA, and Pend Oreille County, WA;
(54) St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL—consisting of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, MO-IL CSA and also including Fayette County, IL, Greene County, IL, Montgomery County, IL, Randolph County, IL, Washington County, IL, Crawford County, MO, Gasconade County, MO, Iron County, MO, Madison County, MO, Montgomery County, MO, Pike County, MO, Ste. Genevieve County, MO, and Washington County, MO;
(55) Tucson-Nogales, AZ—consisting of the Tucson-Nogales, AZ CSA and also including Cochise County, AZ;
(56) Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC—consisting of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC CSA and also including Chowan County, NC, Hertford County, NC, Tyrrell County, NC, Middlesex County, VA, and Surry County, VA;
(57) Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA—consisting of the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA CSA and also including Allegany County, MD, Caroline County, MD, Dorchester County, MD, Kent County, MD, Adams County, PA, Fulton County, PA, York County, PA, Caroline County, VA, King George County, VA, Orange County, VA, Shenandoah County, VA, Westmoreland County, VA, Hardy County, WV, and Mineral County, WV; and
(58) Rest of U.S.—consisting of those portions of the United States and its territories and possessions as listed in 5 CFR 591.205 not located within another locality pay area.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About GS Locality Pay
How is GS Locality Pay Calculated?
Each GS Locality Pay Area has a locality pay percentage. This percentage is updated every year in which there is a federal employee pay raise. This percentage specifies how much over the GS Base Pay (“Rest of the U.S.”) government employees working within that locality will earn.
Where Can I Find the Locality Pay Differential for GS Locality Pay?
The locality percentage is updated in most years. The GS locality pay tables specify the percentage for each locality area.
Where Do I Find the Locality Pay Percentage?
The locality pay percentage is posted at the top of each pay area’s pay table. Here is an example for 2023: “Incorporating the 4.1% General Schedule Increase and a Locality Payment of 19.45%. For the Locality Pay Area of Albany-Schenectady, NY-MA.”
This means 4.1% was added to the GS Base Pay Table for the Albany, NY locality pay area in 2023. The 19.45% means that this percentage has been added to the base pay table for this locality pay area.