13 Feb 2009

Obama stimulis package to put constraints on minimum wage hikes in US Pacific territories

2:28 pm on 13 February 2009

The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is welcoming news the United States federal General Accounting Office will have to report on the impact of past and future minimum wage increases in the CNMI and American Samoa.

This requirement is part of President Barack Obama's economic stimulis package.

Currently the two territories are raising the minimum wage by 50 cent increments until it matches the federal minimum wage of $7.25 US.

In CNMI, it's now up to $4.05, with the next 50 cent minimum wage rise due in May.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago, says a report will prove how detrimental the wage rise is to smaller economies like the Northern Marianas.

"Minimum wages workers are getting more money, so theres more money going around. But you factor in what's happening with the CNMI right now - as I said tourism numbers are down, and the garment industry is next to nil, we're losing our last garment factory this month, and when you add to that the potential of losing Japanese and Russian markets which make up 10 percent of our tourism industry here, it could have a potential[ly] damaging effect."