CNMI minimum wage reaches federal level
The CNMI minimum wage is now at $7.25 per hour starting yesterday, Sept. 30, 2018. This is a $.20-cent increase over the CNMI’s last minimum wage of $7.05 an hour.
That makes the CNMI minimum wage the same as that of 14 other states in the U.S. mainland that includes Texas, Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota.
The federally mandated increase that brought the Commonwealth to the federal level started back in 2007, when the CNMI minimum wage was at $3.05 an hour.
The Government Accountability Office has helped U.S. Congress guide the wage increases by reporting on the economic impacts every several years.
In Congress, there is a move to keep increasing the minimum wage to $12 per hour, nationally as well as in the Marianas.
California has minimum wage at $11 for businesses with 26 or more employees of $10.50 with 25 or fewer. Minimum wage also varies in each city of the third largest state.
SeaTac, a city in southern King County in Washington State, had the highest hourly wage at $15.64 for hospitality and transportation employees. Washington State has a minimum wage of $11.50.
The states of Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin are the others that have the federal minimum wage level at $7.25 per hour. Guam’s minimum wage is $8.25, $1 higher than the federal rate.
An increase in the prices of goods, services, and other commodities are also expected in order for businesses to cover the expenses of their employees’ salaries.
Some stores have already increased the prices of the goods that are being sold, some restaurants had also began charging extra for food that would either be picked up or taken out and even illegal taxi services have also raised their fare prices.
A few years ago, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce said that small businesses was one of their concerns when it comes to salary increases where most owners, especially mom and pop stores, may not be able to afford the raise their employees’ wages.
Having a salary range for each job category—like what the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have implemented—is one possible solution for the local government and private sector.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which was made into law under Public Law 110-28, initially increased the CNMI’s minimum wage by 50 cents, from $3.05 an hour to $3.55 an hour. A year after, another 50-cent increase boosted that to $4.05 an hour.
In May 26, 2009, the minimum wage was raised by another 50 cents, boosting it to $4.55 an hour.
On Sept. 30, 2010, the minimum wage increased to $5.05 per hour. Then a new law put off the scheduled minimum wage increase in 2011 and mandated a new timetable for the increases.
In Sept. 30, 2012, the minimum wage increased to $5.55 per hour and that rate stayed the same in 2013.
On Sept. 30, 2014, the minimum wage increased to $6.05 per hour before being delayed again in 2015.
On Sept. 30, 2016, the minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour, which became $7.05 an hour in 2017. This increase is the last increase mandated under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. Any further increase would require a new law.
The delays in the wage increases were made at the request of the CNMI.