How many people are still getting the Commonwealth's minimum wage of $3.05 an hour-- or less?
Sure, by U.S. law the local minimum will be $4.05 on May 26. That is, unless the business makes $500,000 or less. That's a lot of employers, including some of our large foreign investors who spin off subsidiaries. We'll talk about whether they could use local firms some other time.
Farmers and fishermen, historically screwed over by federal wage laws, are also exempt. I haven't kept up, how much is that a month?
The CNMI Department of Labor helpfully flagged these exceptions in a press release published in the Marianas Variety and the Saipan Tribune. As you can see, DOL didn't attempt to estimate how many workers might be affected. The papers just ran the release and I'm not holding my breath until they do a follow-up.
Everybody has been assuming the Northern Marianas is out of the minimum wage game. Not true, we have the same rights as states to set wage rates as long as they don't conflict with federal laws.
The Legislature could look into this, of course. After all, there was a belated attempt to do something to head off the U.S. minimum. Then again, only contract workers are likely to be affected. No votes there.