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New Locality Pay Areas Will Give 102K Feds a Raise

Also, most existing locality regions would increase in size under new rule.

The Obama administration made official on Monday its proposal that 102,000 federal employees receive a significant raise in the near future, as it moves forward with its decision to create 13 new locality pay areas.

The Office of Personnel Management published a proposed rule spelling out the reasons for and impact of the change, and asking for comments from the public in the next month. OPM did not propose the exact amounts for each locality percentage, saying the president would determine those rates “at a later date.”

The cost of the new locality changes will be offset with lower pay increases in existing pay areas, OPM said, though locality pay rates have been frozen since 2010. The implementation of the rule could still change pending the issuance of a final regulation.

If the rule is implemented, there will be 46 regions with their own locality pay designations, plus the “rest of United States” grouping for everyone else. The new regions are: Albany, N.Y.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Colorado Springs, Co.; Davenport, Iowa; Harrisburg, Pa.; Kansas City, Mo.; Laredo, Texas; Las Vegas, Nev.; Palm Bay, Fla.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tucson, Ariz.

The Office of Management and Budget has told labor groups the new locality areas will be in effect in 2016.

OPM also proposed changing the boundaries of the locality areas in 21 of the 33 existing regions to increase the number of employees receiving the larger salary bump. The employees in the “rest of United States” designated areas received a 14.16 percent bump on top of their annual base salaries in 2015, while those in the specific areas received between 15 percent and 35 percent bumps.

OPM said it was following the guidance of the Federal Salary Council and the President’s Pay Agent in issuing the rule. President Obama has received criticism from federal employee advocates for giving historically low across-the-board raises to base pay in recent years -- following three years of no raises at all -- and the new locality pay areas and definitions provide the administration with a different avenue for increasing feds’ compensation.

An OMB official told Government Executive Obama decided to move forward with the new locality areas because of “years of pay freezes, furloughs and sequestration.” 

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