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) until they equal the U.S. minimum wage. American Samoa's minimum wage increased by $.50 three times, and the CNMI's four times before legislation delayed the increases, providing for no increase in American Samoa in 2010 or 2011 and none in the CNMI in 2011. As scheduled, American Samoa's minimum wage will equal the current U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 in 2018, and the CNMI's will reach it in 2016. Recent economic declines in both areas reflect the closure of one of two tuna canneries in American Samoa and the departure of the garment industry in the CNMI. GAO is required to report in 2010, 2011, 2013, and biennially thereafter on the impact of the minimum wage increases. This report updates GAO's 2010 report and describes, since the increases began, (1) employment and earnings, and (2) the status of key industries. GAO reviewed federal and local information; collected data from employers through a questionnaire and from employers and workers through discussion groups; and conducted interviews during visits to each area.
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