WASHINGTON – Nearly 72,000 federal employees will begin receiving higher locality payments in January following the Office of Personnel Management’s decision, announced today, to add six new regions to the federal government’s locality pay system and expand 2 others.
The six new pay localities are Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, Ala.; Burlington-South Burlington, Vt.; Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice, Texas; Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont, Neb.-Iowa; San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, Texas; and Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Va.-N.C. About 70,000 federal employees under the General Schedule pay system work in those six locations.
In addition, two areas will be added to existing pay localities: McKinley County, New Mexico, will be added to Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, N.M., affecting about 1,600 GS employees; and San Luis Obispo County, Calif., will be added to Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif., affecting about 100 employees.
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr., who pushed for the expansion of the locality pay system as one of two AFGE representatives on the Federal Salary Council, issued the following statement:
“This is welcome news to the tens of thousands of federal employees who work in areas where salaries have fallen further behind their private-sector peers. Moving into their own pay locality, as opposed to the catch-all locality that covers the rest of the U.S., means these employees will be in line for larger locality raises in the future.
“Unfortunately, the locality pay system has never worked as originally enacted in 1990, since successive Congresses and administrations have prevented the full locality increases from taking effect. Today, federal salaries on average are nearly 31 percent behind non-federal salaries, based on the most recent Labor Department surveys.
“Many agencies report having trouble recruiting and retaining talented employees across the country due to these widening pay gaps. Congress can certainly help by approving a minimum 1.9 percent pay raise next year for the 2.1 million civilian employees who keep our government running every day.”