Amata Highlights GAO Study Team on Island because of 2015 Congressional Action

October 21, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Monday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata highlighted congressional action from 2015 resulting in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study team’s current efforts in American Samoa to report on the Territory’s minimum wage.

“In 2015, I sponsored a bill which passed into law, in which Congress directed the GAO to conduct this study of our minimum wage for 2020,” said Aumua Amata. “I’m happy to see the GAO team at work here in American Samoa, learning firsthand about our economy, so we can have the best possible minimum wage policy going forward.”

Amata with GAO team
Congresswoman Amata with the GAO team

 

According to the law (Public Law 114–61), the GAO is tasked with a report on American Samoa’s minimum wage, changes in the cost of living, and the local economy. It is a result of Congresswoman Amata’s bill, H.R. 2617 in the 114th Congress, amending the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. The purpose of the study is to know how the minimum wage in American Samoa lines up with the cost of living over time.

At the time, in 2015, Congresswoman Amata’s bill prevented a spike in the minimum wage of 50 cents per year that the local economy could not absorb, and postponed a new lesser increase for three years. Instead of the previously scheduled increase, a more manageable minimum wage increase of 40 cents every three years (about 13 cents a year) was put in place, which allows employers to plan ahead and budget knowing of each three-year change in the future. This protects the economy from steep increases and protects employees from inflation.

“Thank you to the GAO team and all their efforts, as they work with Governor Lolo and his team on this important issue,” said Congresswoman Amata. “This report will be the basis for Congress to examine our Territory’s minimum wage and how it impacts our economy.”

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