While Guam mulls a $9.25/hr pay raise, its nearest state, Hawaii, contemplates House Bill 1191 that will raise its pay to $15/hr by 2023. The progress in addressing wage inequality on Guam drifts behind our nearest states. GFT takes the position that nearly all wages on Guam do not keep up with inflation and the national average wage per occupation, public and private sector jobs alike. Low pay is one of the main driving forces of people leaving the island. Our island sons and daughters leave their parents because Guam has the lowest pay for most occupations. One of President John F. Kennedy’s slogan is, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The increase to $9.25/hr directly affects a small population on Guam, but even a slight increase in spending on island would lift everybody upward.
Based on data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest reported average hourly rate on Guam is $8.86 for food preparation workers, followed by dishwashers and childcare workers at $9.04 and $9.05, respectively. Sadly, the individuals we entrust for our food preparation have a difficult time placing food on their tables. In comparison, the average pay for most tourism associated occupations is above $9.25/hr, though, not by much. An increase to $9.25/hr offers a minimal impact onto businesses since most workers already earn above this threshold to make ends meet. Let a rising tide lift all boats, not just yachts.