30 Jan 2008

CNMI faces more economic pain with next stage of minimum wage

10:03 am on 30 January 2008

A report by the US Department of Labour has warned that scheduled increases in the minimum wage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands will further weaken the economy and lead to an increase in the number of people leaving the islands.

A US federal law requires that the minimum wage in the CNMI and American Samoa be raised to that of the US mainland by 2015.

The minmum wage in the CNMI was increased by 50 cents last July to $3.55 and will be increased by a further 50 cents in May unless Congress passes legislation to stop or delay the increases.

Richard Pierce the Governor's special assistant for trade relations says the first increase led to the closure of at least three clothing plants.

"And then the second increase, there's no ifs, ands and whens about it, the rest of these plants will close down, and I mean the apparel plants, and then the tourism industry and the hotels will begin to suffer."

Richard Pierce says the Governor hopes to put the case against increasing the minimum wage in Washington next month.