It's going to be a happier-than-usual new year for some 600 civilian employees of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL). Their paychecks fatten up a bit.

Rep. Tom MacArthur and service members Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst (A1C Zachary Martin, USAF)

Effective January 8, the federal Office of Personnel Management moved the Federal Wage System workers from the lower-scale Philadelphia wage area to the higher-range New York pay zone.

It's an action not only that shore Representative Tom MacArthur (R-3) sought doggedly since the start of his first term, but that his predecessor Jon Runyon demanded as well.

It wasn't an issue until the three-base merger in 2009. Until then, Lakehurst Naval Air Station civilian workers were classified in the New York zone. The unification left Fort Dix and McGuire workers with smaller wages for similar tasks.

In a prepared remark, MacArthur pointed to the drain on morale that pay disparities can cause, and its underlying effect on the missions of all three installations.

"I have actively advocated for this proposal along with my colleague Chris Smith, and it brings me great joy to know that hard working families in South Jersey will finally earn the pay they deserve," MacArthur said.

The Joint Base is considered second only to the State of New Jersey in terms of employment volume, and the largest employer in its region, contributing an estimated $6,900,000 annually to the regional economic engine.

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