Pay & Benefits

OPM is planning new pay boundaries for some hourly feds

The Office of Personnel Management is looking to redraw some of the geographic lines that determine which pay schedules apply to federal employees that are paid by the hour.

The proposed rule would adjust the boundaries for three metropolitan areas under the Federal Wage System, which is designed to ensure that hourly feds are paid equally within a geographic area and that their pay is commensurate with that of private sector jobs in the area.

“The Office of Personnel Management is issuing a proposed rule that would redefine the geographic boundaries of several appropriated fund Federal Wage System wage areas for pay-setting purposes. Based on recent reviews of Metropolitan Statistical Area boundaries in a number of wage areas, OPM proposes redefinitions,” the proposed rule states.

“When the boundaries of wage areas were first established in the 1960s, there were fewer MSAs than there are today and the boundaries of the then-existing MSAs were much smaller. Most MSAs were contained within the boundaries of a wage area. With each OMB update, MSAs have expanded and in some cases now extend beyond the boundaries of the wage area.”

MSA’s are generally composed of urban areas with high population densities, but surrounding suburban areas may be included in these definitions “if they have strong social and economic ties to central counties.”

Locality pay determinations are also tied to these areas.

The proposed rule would redefine Madison County, Virginia, as part of the Washington, D.C., MSA, rather than its current association with Hagerstown-Martinsburg-Chambersburg area, so that it matches up with that location’s wage area.

For the same reasons, Ottowa County, Ohio, would move from its current Cleveland, Ohio, wage area to the Detroit, Michigan, area, and Covington County, Mississippi, would move from the Jackson, Mississippi, wage area to the Meridian, Mississippi, area.

The goal of the change is to make wage area and MSA borders more closely line up, and would ultimately have an impact on 82 federal employees under FWS and currently working in those locations.

Those interested in commenting on the proposed rule will have 30 days to submit their insights through the federal rulemaking portal, and the rule is slated to take effect 30 days after its final publication in the Federal Register.

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