Against criticism, Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Velma Palacios said yesterday that local businesses are not suppressing wages to the detriment of attracting more local workers and that in fact, a majority of businesses have been paying dollars higher than the minimum wage to retain much needed workers in a growing economy and against competition from new developers.
Palacios also said, responding to questions from Saipan Tribune, that they are open to a push through the local legislature to raise the local minimum wage even higher than the set increase of $6.55 this September, jumping a couple of rungs up the ladder on the increases set every two years until the CNMI reaches the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
She told Saipan Tribune that staff from the Office of the Governor and the Chamber are trying to meet to discuss a possible increase in the minimum wage.
“I definitely would support that. But again, the only concern would be with those small and pop businesses.”