23 May 2007

Concerns gap between American Samoan minimum wage and U.S. is too great

3:17 pm on 23 May 2007

There are concerns that if American Samoa doesn't move to close the gap between the territory's minimum wage and that of the U.S., it will be imposed federally.

A bill before the U.S. senate is proposing a 50 U.S. cents an hour rise for the territory with further increases planned but an amendment is being put forward to reduce that to 35 cents.

That would not close the gap between the territory's lowest minimum wage of 2 dollars and 65 cents an hour compared to the U.S.'s 5 dollars and 15 cents which is set to eventually increase to 7 dollars and 25 cents.

The secretary of the American Samoan chamber of commerce, Jason Thomas, says they do need to lessen the difference.

"We still want to be masters of our own destiny and we feel that if the gap becomes too great, the federal government will do just that, say, look you haven't done it, you're going to just meet the U.S. minimum wage and that would just be devastating for the local economy to have to do that in a short period of time."

Mr Thomas says the chamber supports the current amendment.