Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wage pages

The U.S. Department of Labor finally got around to posting its report on the effect of the minimum wage increase on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.

I'm not sure when they released it, but it's been on my list of Things to Follow-up since I first read the draft.

I thought the report was basically worthless because it wasn't based on facts, but there was language on page four that gave me hope:
This report is comprised of three subsequent sections. Section Two includes: (a) a summary of the economic situation of American Samoa prior to the initial scheduled minimum wage increase; (b) a discussion of possible impacts observed since the implementation of the initial fifty-centincrease in the minimum wages since July 24, 2007 in American Samoa; and (c) a discussion of projections of possible future impacts. Section Three comprises a similar discussion regarding the CNMI. Section Four presents concluding observations regarding data needs to support future investigations of the impact of minimum wage increases affecting the subject erritories.
But there was no Section IV.

Okay, surely the most important--maybe the only important-- part would be completed in the final version. Nope, the sentence I bolded was dropped.

What's going on? I remember stories (thought I bookmarked, sorry) saying the U.S. Congress wanted more information, a better study. Also on page four (emphasis added again):

It was not feasible to conduct field investigations in connection with this study. Had there been time and resources to conduct survey data collection in the field, travel by the research team to the islands could have been useful. However, meaningful field observations would have required data collection from both employers and households over many successive months in order to discern effects of the initial and subsequently scheduled minimum wage increases. In addition, a systematic data collection effort would have required approval of a survey under the terms of the Paperwork Reduction Act. Given the short reporting timeframe, design and implementation of field surveys were not practical.
Just so we get this straight: they couldn't, or wouldn't, even travel to the islands or do surveys. But they did interview 26 people by telephone and email. They won't tell the Congress how they're going to do it better.

If I was in my cynical/paranoid mode... but I'm not, so I'll let it lie for now

Oh, the map. It's from DOL, showing states/jurisdictions that have laws above the minimum, below the minimum and no laws. What's wrong with this picture?

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