23 Jan 2007

Raising the minimum wage in American Samoa could cost many government jobs

2:56 pm on 23 January 2007

The American Samoa department of commerce estimates that 1,523 government workers, or nearly one third of public servants, would have to be laid off if local minimum wages were raised to 7 dollars 25 US an hour.

This was the testimony of the department's director, Faleseu Paopao, at a joint hearing of the house and senate on the minimum wage issue this morning.

Faleseu says no government worker is being paid below 3 dollars an hour at present.

He also estimated that the wage increases would cost an additional 25 million.

The acting governor, Ipulasi Aitofele, told the hearing that raising local wages would mean that the administration would have to seek additional funding, while the chamber of commerce says it is opposed to any increase, saying that it would be devastating for the territory's economy.