Minimum wage study delayed again

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Director Sam Mabini says she will grant MR&D’s request to extend the deadline.

Guam – A minimum wage study should have been completed by now, but the contractor conducting the study is asking for a time extension to complete the study.

Guam Department of Labor Director Sam Mabini made the announcement today in a press release. The contractor, Market Research and Development was awarded the contract to conduct an economic impact analysis on the most recent minimum wage increase on Guam which went from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour in early 2015.

Vice Speaker BJ Cruz initiated the minimum wage increase through legislation which was originally introduced as a gradual increase once a year for three years to $10.10 an hour. However, as a compromise, he agreed to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and hold off on further attempts at an increase until after a study was completed.

The original deadline for the study was set for April 30 this year, but lack of funding delayed the project and it wasn’t awarded until September 7 with a deadline of mid December.

The contractor is now asking to extend that deadline to January 27, citing “unforeseen circumstances.”

In a letter to Mabini, MR&D President Jay Merrill says there are several factors causing the delay. He noted that there was a misunderstanding as to whom MRD was allowed to obtain the local business database from and that alone took up more than a month to reconcile.

That delay, says Merrill took MR&D into the holiday season which made it difficult for them to schedule interviews with local companies.

You can read MRD’s letter to Mabini below:

Dear Director Mabini:

 

Due to unforeseen circumstances Market Research & Development, Inc. is requesting an extension of our Memorandum of Agreement MOA 16-PS-002 until January 27, 2017.

 

Three issues were encountered after the contract was awarded on September 7, 2016.

 

1.       It was our understanding when the project was bid, that the contact information for businesses already surveyed by the Guam Department of Labor to ascertain employment information could be made available to facilitate the minimum wage study.  This request was shared with the Guam Department of Labor and at the time it was believed that utilization of the sample would be possible.  This data base, or “sample”, was key to facilitate the use of an already vetted and approved foundation from which to select the respondents needed for the minimum wage study. 

 

Unfortunately, it was revealed by Guam Department Of Labor some two weeks after the project was initiated that the U.S. Department Of Labor would not allow the existing data base to be provided to MR&D.  Its use by an outside consultant was viewed as infringing on U.S. Department of Labor confidentiality regulations.  Instead, a separate independent sample of businesses was required.   After consultation with our research associates at the University of Washington it was decided to utilize the Guam business license lists that are public record.   Utilizing business licensing information is the same approach that has been utilized in other jurisdictions in the United States.  Thus, the survey protocol can be compared to studies conducted in the U.S.  The request to GovGuam for business license lists required another two weeks to secure from the Department of Revenue and Taxation, Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Guam Contractor’s Licensing Board;

2.       The business license data from each of the agencies were are in different formats and all were text files.  They had to be converted to data files, and then reconfigured so they could be used as the foundation for the sample of business surveys that were required.  To prepare and clean the data required an additional three weeks to make it suitable; and,

3.       That delay put us into the holiday season and businesses are getting ready for the rush of customers and so scheduling and completing the interviews have taken longer than expected.

 

The survey is now progressing well but due to the unanticipated delays, we are respectfully requesting an extension.  Please let me know if there is any additional information that you might require.  Your consideration is greatly appreciated.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Jay R. Merrill

 

President