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Higher-pay locality zones recommended for 6 cities, Alaska, Hawaii

Nov. 19, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments

Employees in six more cities and all employees in Alaska and Hawaii would be eligible for higher locality pay beginning in 2012 under a recommendation approved Friday by the Federal Salary Council.

The two states and the six cities Albany, N.Y.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Portland, Maine all would be designated separate, higher-paying locality zones and move up from the "rest of U.S.," or RUS, zone.

The recommendation, which must be approved by the President's Pay Agent, an interagency council, would bring the number of locality zones to 40. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys showed that the pay gap in those areas was significantly higher than the RUS gap.

The council decided not to establish unique locality areas in New Orleans and Louisville, Ky. BLS data showed that the pay gap in those areas was smaller than the RUS gap.

Employees in Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico received one-third of the locality pay for the RUS zone for the first time beginning in 2010. Congress last year passed a bill phasing in RUS locality pay for those employees who previously received cost-of-living allowances instead of locality pay. Unlike locality pay, cost-of-living allowances were not included in the computation of annuities.

While the council recommended separate locality zones for Alaska and Hawaii in 2012, it recommended continuing to grant territories the RUS locality payment.

The President's Pay Agent, an interagency council of top agency and labor leaders that advises the White House on pay issues, usually adopts the salary council's recommendations.

Chuck Grimes, the Office of Personnel Management's deputy associate director for employee services, said the pay agent would likely issue its decision by the end of the year.

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