Despite the garment industry's demise in 2009, average payroll in the CNMI went up from $12,898 in 2009 to $14,057, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. This could partly be a result of the annual 50-cent increase in the Commonwealth's minimum wage since 2007.
The 50-cent minimum wage hike occurs yearly until it reaches the federal wage floor of $7.25 an hour.
Total annual payroll for 2010 was $148.6 million, up $17.2 million from the 2009 total of $131.4 million.
The County Business Patterns data that the U.S. Census Bureau released also show an increase of 382 jobs in the CNMI-from 10,188 in 2009 to 10,570 in 2010.
But over the same time, the number of businesses dropped by 50, or from 1,232 in 2009 to 1,182 in 2010.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP) said this is only the third year that the annual County Business Patterns report has included economic data for the CNMI and the other U.S. insular areas such as Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Nationwide, the report provides detailed information on the number of business establishments, employees, and first-quarter and annual payrolls for some 1,100 industries,” he said during the weekend.
Of the 1,182 reported establishments in 2010, most were in retail trade (241) and accommodation and food services (140).
Accommodation and food services led in employment, however, with 3,264 workers followed by retail with 1,606.
County Business Patterns excludes those who were self-employed, employees of private households, agriculture production workers, and most government employees.