Guam lags behind in wages compared to other states, no wonder Guamanians leave our beautiful island. The Economic Policy Institute (2019) tracks minimum wage increases and notes the following: minimum wage has increased in 27 states and DC since January 2014, 41 localities have adopted minimum wages above their state minimum wage, and minimum wage is automatically adjusted because it is indexed for inflation in 18 states and DC. Hawaii, our closest state, seeks to raise its minimum wage to $15/hr by 2023 through House Bill 1191. One of our furthest states, Florida, will vote on an initiative to increase wages to $15/hr as well. Big companies like Amazon, Target, Ben and Jerry’s, Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Costco plan on raising their minimum wage to $15/hr by 2021 (Maranjian, 2019). Guam’s wages are not competitive enough to retain talented employees.
If Bill 136-35 were to go through, Guam would have a wage set at $9.25/hr in a time when a handful of states are contemplating a raise to near $15/hr (Leins, 2018). The cost of living has gone up regardless of wage increases. Utility rates have gone up based on their fuel recovery charges, which is tied to the price of fuel, not wage. The purchasing power of those who struggle to get by has diminished.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018). May 2018 state occupational employment and wage estimates Guam. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_gu.htm
- Leins, Casey (2018). Minimum wage increases in 20 states. U.S. News. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2018-12-31/minimum-wage-increases-in-20-states-in-2019
- Maranjian, S. (2019). These 21 companies pay a $15 minimum wage (or more!). The Motley Fool. Retrieved from https://www.fool.com/slideshow/these-21-companies-pay-15-minimum-wage-or-more/
- The Economic Policy Institute (2019). Minimum wage tracker. Retrieved from https://www.epi.org/minimum-wage-tracker/