Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Minimum Wage in 2007

In 2007, only 2.3 percent of all hourly workers earned at or below the minimum wage, which was $5.15 from January 2007 through July 2007 and $5.85 from August 2007 to the end of the year. I credit Mr. Hayashi for initially pointing out this source to me a couple of years ago, and I recommend his piece on the minimum wage issue. One of his more interesting findings is that, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' article, "63 percent of workers who make the minimum wage or less receive raises that put them above the minimum-wage level within one year of employment. Only 15 percent of workers still earn the minimum wage after a period of three years."

What does this mean for American Samoa? In our rush to address some imaginary social injustice, we may deprive many of our people of a necessary step up the economic ladder. Nevertheless, presumed social benefits shouldn't be justification for government to trump individual rights of either employers or employees. We shouldn't have to debunk the liberal case of social benefits or justice of the minimum wage to defend the rights of employers and employees to negotiate wages between themselves.

I guess that's another argument for another day.

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