Territories Snared in Wage Debate; Hill Backpedals on Minimum Pay Rate for Samoa, Marianas
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Just three years after a Democrat-led Congress imposed the federal minimum wage on two U.S. territories in the Pacific, lawmakers last month halted the program in its tracks, acknowledging the move had sapped thousands of jobs from American Samoa and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The two-year delay in the case of American Samoa and one-year reprieve for the Northern Mariana Islands was imposed even as both parties have sparred over the effects of the minimum wage in the U.S. during the troubled economy.
?We said this increase would be harmful in 2007, and the Democrats did it anyway "said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican. ?It proves our point that the federal government setting wage rates is destructive to job creation, whether it's in American Samoa or western North Carolina.
The story is a complicated study in political pressure, lawmaking and unintended consequences. It began just after Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress in early 2007.
The first order of business was trying to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, and to extend the wage level to include the Northern Mariana Islands to combat reports of labor abuses there.
That would have left American Samoa as the only territory outside the federal minimum-wage rules, and the …
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Publication information: Article title: Territories Snared in Wage Debate; Hill Backpedals on Minimum Pay Rate for Samoa, Marianas. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Washington Times (Washington, DC). Publication date: October 19, 2010. Page number: A01. © 2009 The Washington Times LLC. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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