Hoeven Announces Pay Rate Increase for 160 Federal Workers at MAFB, Across Western North Dakota

Senator Pressed OPM Officials throughout 2014 to Approve Cost-of-Living Adjustments

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has approved a special rate increases for 160 federal employees at Minot Air Force Base (MAFB) and across western North Dakota. Hoeven has been pushing OPM for the decision, which benefits employees who have faced increased cost-of-living challenges owing to economic growth in the oil patch. The increases are designed to help recruit and retain a high-quality federal workforce.

“This is welcome news for our federal workers at Minot Air Force Base and in western North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “By recognizing the higher cost-of-living our people have faced, we can help ensure that we retain and attract the most qualified, high-quality workers to fill these roles.”

Senator Hoeven announced another pay increase for federal civilian workers at the MAFB last December, when OPM approved a Department of Defense (DOD) request for a special rate increase. The action increased the pay of base laborers, custodians, maintenance mechanics, cooks and other food service employees.

Hoeven first made the case for cost-of-living adjustments for affected federal employees in western North Dakota in a March 2014 letter to the Federal Salary Council, which does salary and market analysis and makes recommendations to OPM. Subsequently, OPM indicated that consideration was underway at DOI for a special rate request for the Bakken region.

In a letter of response, OPM Acting Deputy Associate Director Brenda L. Roberts acknowledged the problem and said the Federal Salary Council would review market and salary data in Minot and western North Dakota to find programs that would help ensure that federal wages keep up with increases in cost-of-living.

At a follow-up meeting with OPM Director Katherine Archuleta in Minot last September, the senator again highlighted the work being done by the Air Force, U.S. Postal Service and state of North Dakota, but stressed that OPM needed to work toward a timely solution and also address the needs of other federal departments serving in North Dakota.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is also responding to cost-of-living increases. Earlier last year, Hoeven announced that the USPS has approved 9 to 20 percent increases to some postal employees’ base pay to attract and retain carriers in Minot and the Bakken region.

Growth in the state’s energy sector has driven the cost of living in Minot from below the national average in 2003 to six percent above it in 2013, making it difficult to recruit and retain civilian workers at the Minot Air Force Base and at federal agencies operating in the Bakken region.