The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has informed NTEU that it plans to issue a final rule tomorrow to implement the Federal Salary Council’s pending recommendation to establish six new locality pay areas, specifically:
- Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL;
- Burlington-South Burlington, VT;
- San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX;
- Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC;
- Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice, TX; and
- Omaha-Council Bluffs-Fremont, NE-IA.
NTEU is a member of the Council and supports the establishment of these new locality pay areas, some of which have languished for a significant period of time owing to a lack of action by the administration. These six areas were recommended based on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed that private sector wages in these areas averaged more than 10 percent higher than wages in the remainder of the “Rest of U.S.” pay area over a three-year period.
These six new locality pay areas are scheduled to take effect the first full pay period after January 1, 2019, and affect about 70,000 General Schedule employees. However, as stated in the notice, employees in these areas need to be aware that the President’s planned pay freeze for January 2019, which was formalized in August under authority provided under the law, means that despite these new locality pay areas being in existence that there would be no change in locality pay rates for employees in these areas in the new year. At this point, given that we do not yet know whether Congress will override the President’s pay freeze and provide for an overall federal employee pay increase for 2019, it is not yet clear whether or not there will be any locality pay increases for any employee, regardless of locality pay area.
I will keep you informed of developments on this key issue and on NTEU’s actions to secure deserved pay increases.