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CNMI Labor, Commerce collaborate to address concerns ahead of 2019 Prevailing Wage Survey

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(Office of the Governor) — In December, the CNMI Department of Labor and the CNMI Department of Commerce held a conference call meeting with the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Prevailing Wage Center to discuss employers’ concerns regarding the prevailing wage determination for H-2B and PERM visas. The meeting focused on the applicability of the 2019 CNMI Prevailing Wage Survey or PWS to other visas, such as H-2B and PERM.

The 2019 PWS replaces the previous 2016 Prevailing Wage and Workforce Assessment Study and could be used by employers when submitting a PWD request to the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers must also obtain a copy of the 2019 PWS survey methodology once it is completed by Commerce.

“The final draft of the 2019 Prevailing Wage Survey Methodology report has been completed and transmitted to our local and federal key counterparts and we are awaiting final review and feedback before we can officially transmit for approval and publication,” said Justin Andrew, director of the Central Statistics Division.

“Once the PWS methodology is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Prevailing Wage Center, then CNMI employers will be able to move forward with their prevailing wage determination requests for other visas such as the H-2B and PERM,” said Secretary of Labor Vicky Benavente.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios underscored the importance of a prevailing wage survey that accurately reflects the Commonwealth’s economy, especially after the negative impact from Super Typhoon Yutu.

“Having a true prevailing wage survey that is representative of the Commonwealth’s economy, especially after Yutu, is necessary to protect both employers and its employees from economic hardships, where the cost to run a business and the price of goods will rise. We want to ensure that wages grow organically as it has been over the last four years under this administration,” said Governor Torres.

“Since 2014, average hourly wages have increased by 42 percent from $8.71 per hour to $12.38, and that was the result of a naturally growing economy that was driven by local entrepreneurship and the attraction of new industries and businesses that have employed more US workers than ever before,” said Lt. Governor Palacios.

For further information regarding the Prevailing Wage Survey Methodology, contact the Department of Commerce-Central Statistics Division at 664-3023/45.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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