24 Sep 2011

Togiola asks Congress to suspend wage hikes

7:36 am on 24 September 2011

American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono has told a congressional hearing on the impact of the minimum wage increases that the hikes should be terminated immediately or suspended indefinitely.

Since 2007 the local minimum wage has been increased by 50 cents three times.

Federal law requires that local wages reach the federal level of $7.25 by 2018.

However an amendment was passed last year which suspended the hikes for 2010 and 2011.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Oversight in Washington D.C, Governor Togiola said that the US General Accountability Office report released a few months ago on the impact of the wage increases, did not adequately illustrate the magnitude of the worsening economic disaster in American Samoa.

Togiola Tulafono raised concern with seven issues iin the GAO report including that the employment losses stemming from the minimum wage increases are understated, and that the report downplays the minimum wage as only one of several factors influencing the growing economic depressing in the territory.

The governor stressed that American Samoa needs relief from congress regarding the minimum wage law.

He suggested that alternative methods to determining local wages be explored.