CANNERY, GOVERNMENT TOP AMERICAN SAMOA EMPLOYERS

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, June 3) - A U.S.
Department of Labor (DOL) survey has once again found that the two industries
that employ the largest number of workers in American Samoa are fish canning and
the government.

The third largest industry classification, according to the DOL
survey conducted in November 2002 is Retailing, Wholesaling and Warehousing.

These three industry classifications make up approximately 90
percent of all covered workers in the survey data, according to information
provided by DOL's Wage and Hour Division.

This information is part of the Economic Report of American
Samoa 2003 released last month and will be used by the federally appointed
Special Industry Committee No. 25 when they convene on the week of June 16 to
review minimum wages for the territories various industries.

According to the survey, as of November 2002 there were 12,643
covered employees working in 136 establishments or government agencies contacted
by DOL personnel.

Each establishment was asked to furnish employment and wage
information.

Of the total number of covered employees in the survey, 7,664
workers were employed at 131 establishments in the private sector while 4,979
worked in the government.

The US Census Bureau estimated the territory's civilian labor
force at 17,627 for 2000 and civilian employment at 16,718.

Fish Canning and Processing continued to be the dominant
industry in the private sector with 5,133 covered employees, or 40 percent of
the total covered employees, ASG employed 4,979 accounting for more than 39
percent of total survey employment.

Employment in Retailing, Wholesaling, and Warehousing accounted
for 1,258 workers or ten percent of the covered employees in firms surveyed.

The survey says that the lowest wage rate is $1 an hour for a
person working in the government classification but the wage range $1 to $1.99
contained only 13 workers (fewer than one percent of total surveyed employment).

Employees earning $2 to $2.99 make up four percent of local
employment while those earning $3 to $3.99 per hour represented the largest wage
range category, containing approximately 50 percent of all workers.

Covered employees that were paid $4 to $4.99 per hour were at 15
percent while 8 percent earned $5 to $5.99 and 22 percent of covered employees
working at the surveyed firms were paid wages that exceeded $5.99 per hour.

The report said if "some employers overstate the wages paid
to some employees in an attempt to avoid investigations" the report said
its estimates "might understate the true costs of raising wages to some
higher minimum wage."

But "these costs are really attributable to compliance with
the current minimum wage rather than the result of raising the minimum wage to
the higher level," the reports points out.

The report then went on to provide information regarding each
industry classification, their current minimum wage, the direct effect of
raising the wage rate for each industry and other information.

In calculating estimated effect of increases, the report said it
does not take into consideration any movement in the wage structure (resulting
from steps taken to avoid wage compression) above the alternative minimum wage
rate.

Additionally, the calculation was based on the wage structure of
surveyed firms as of Nov. 2002 and does not take into consideration any
subsequent wage movements occurring immediately after the survey.

However, the Samoa News is looking at only the three largest
industry classifications while the rest are outlined in the report that has been
already distributed.

· Government Employees Industry includes all ASG employees, the
hospital, educational institutions and a power facility - paying an average
straight-time wage of $7.24 to covered employees - but excludes all federal
government employees.

Of the covered employees in the survey, the report said 20
percent were paid $2.65 to $3.64 per hour and 16 percent earned from $3.65 to
$4.64 per hour, while 12 percent were paid from $4.65 to $5.64 per hour.

The largest group of workers, 52 percent, was paid at a rate
that exceeded $5.64 per hour.

If the minimum wage is raised 5% to $2.91 the direct effect,
according to the report would be a 0.1 percent increase in hourly wage income;
however, average hourly earnings would increase only two cents.

If increased to $3.46 per hour, it would result in a one percent
increase in hourly wage income and would raise the average hourly wage rate to
$7.32 assuming no other wage increases take place.

Not mentioned in this particular segment of the report is that
ASG is currently undergoing a re-classification of its workforce, expected to be
completed early next month.

· The Fish Canning and Processing Industry includes the
canning, freezing, preserving, and processing of any fish or shellfish, and the
manufacture of any byproduct from these activities. It also includes the
manufacture of cans and related activities.

The three firms included in the survey paid an average,
straight-time hourly wage of $3.56 to covered employees; thirty cents above the
minimum wage of $3.26 that went into effect Sept. 11, 2001.

Of the 5,133 covered employees, 4,624 (90%) earned $3.26 to
$4.25 per hour. Only one percent of covered employees earned wages in excess of
$6.25 per hour.

Of the 5,133 employees in this industry, 419 (8%) earned exactly
the minimum rate.

The direct effect of raising the minimum to $3.42 (a 5%
increase) would be a 2.5% increase in hourly wage income and an increase in
average hourly earnings of nine cents.

· Retailing, Wholesaling, and Warehousing Industry includes all
activities related to the selling of goods and services at wholesale and retail,
and it includes warehousing and other distribution activities. Also included are
the activities of importers and exporters.

This industry classification contains the largest number of
establishments surveyed (79) and it contains the third largest number of covered
employees (1,258).

According to survey data, covered workers in this industry
received an average wage of $4.61 per hour, which was $1.51 higher than the
industry minimum rate. In this industry, three percent of covered employees
earned wages of $1.98 to $2.97 per hour and 53 percent earned $2.98 to $3.97.

A total of 77 workers earned less than the minimum wage and 153
employees were paid a wage rate equal to the minimum of $3.10.

Increasing the minimum wage from $3.10 to $3.25 (a 5% increase)
would increase the average hourly wage to $4.66 and would increase income from
hourly wages by 1.1%

June 4, 2003

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com 

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