Saipan – A bill calling for a delay in the 50-cent increase in the CNMI’s minimum wage on Sept. 30 this year and in 2015 passed the U.S. Senate last Thursday.
The Saipan Tribune reports that the bill, which also extends the CW and E2-C investor visa program beyond Dec. 31, 2014, now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval.
The current CNMI minimum wage is $5.55 an hour and it is expected to increase to $6.05 this coming September.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan said the bill delaying minimum wage increases in the CNMI will allow more time for local businesses to adjust, the economy to improve, and the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the effects of the wage increases.
Gov. Eloy Inos said before the U.S. Senate vote last week that he is concerned about a lack of a decision by the U.S. Department of Labor on the proposed extension of the CW program, which he said could also be addressed by HR 2200.
If the CW program is not extended, the CNMI will lose easy access to some 12,000 skilled and professional foreign workers that its tourism economy has relied upon for years.