American Samoa and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Wages, Employment, Employer Actions, Earnings, and Worker Views Since Minimum Wage Increases Began

GAO-10-333 Published: Apr 08, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 08, 2010.
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Highlights

In 2007, the United States enacted a law incrementally raising the minimum wages in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The law applied the first $.50 per hour increase in July 2007 and mandated additional increases in each subsequent year until the minimum wages reach the level of the U.S. minimum wage--currently $7.25 per hour. American Samoa's lowest paid will reach that wage in 2016, and the CNMI in 2015. In American Samoa, one of two tuna canneries employing almost a third of workers closed in September 2009. In the CNMI, where the garment industry was one of two major employers, the last garment factory closed in early 2009. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires GAO to report annually on the impact of the minimum wage increases in American Samoa and the CNMI. In this report GAO describes, since the increases began, wages, employment, employer actions, inflation-adjusted earnings, and worker views. GAO reviewed existing information from federal and local sources. GAO also collected data from large employers (at least 50 employees) through a questionnaire and from small employers and workers through discussion groups, in addition to conducting interviews during visits to each area. GAO shared the report with relevant federal agencies and the governments of American Samoa and the CNMI and incorporated their comments as appropriate.

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