Federal Benefits Service

How Locality Plays a Role in the Officiated 2022 Federal Pay Raise

On Wednesday, President Biden officially issued the executive order that will enact his pay raise of an average of 2.7% for federal civilian employees next year. 

This is in congruence with Biden’s initial proposal in his fiscal 2022 budget plan, where the raise provides federal workers with a 2.2% across-the-board raise, as well as an average 0.5% increase in locality pay. 

Federal employee groups had pushed for a higher pay raise, lobbying lawmakers to support a 3.2% raise, which would have been split between a 2.2% pay increase and a 1% average increase in locality pay. However, the House and Senate deferred to the president’s plan, and a full year government funding deal is still up in the air while short-term resolutions are being made. 

The 2.7% average raise marks an increase from the 1% increase feds received at the beginning of 2021. That raise also lacked any form of locality pay boost. It still is smaller than the 2020 3.1% raise received by federal employees. 

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) shared pay tables detailing the raise across grades and regions. The pay raise is set to go into effect for the first full pay period of 2022. 

It is important to remember that 2.7% figure is an average. The actual raises federal employees receive will depend on where they work within the government because of locality pay. 

Locality pay originates from the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA). Lawmakers initially designed it to make sure that federal employees living in various parts of the country were paid salaries that were still competitive with what private sector employees in similar fields were earning. 

It’s up to the executive branch to distribute that total across the 54 distinct locality pay areas, and it means federal employees in some regions will make more than the “advertised” 2.7% raise, while some will make less. 

In order to find out more about local raises, check out the OPM’s table here. 

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