Gov. Pierluisi convenes advisory group to evaluate Puerto Rico’s minimum wage
Looking to evaluate Puerto Rico’s minimum wage and to promote a possible increase from the current $7.25 hourly rate, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has convened the Governor’s Advisory Group on the Minimum Wage, which will be chaired Chief of Staff Noelia García and will integrate members of the public and private sectors.
“Wage inequality is one of the main reasons why Puerto Rico residents seek a better quality of life in the United States,” Pierluisi said. “Puerto Rico has high-caliber professionals and people who want to get ahead here.”
“My government will continue to work actively to improve the quality of life of our people and that includes that we evaluate the minimum wage and promote fairer wages because we need a robust workforce for Puerto Rico’s recovery,” he said, after signing Executive Order 2021-035 to create the advisory group.
The last time Puerto Rico’s minimum wage was revised was in 2009. It follows the provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation and Sick Leave Act of 1998. Recent discussions have pointed to raising the hourly rate to $15.
“Since then, the cost of living has increased and it is time for our workers to have a fair wage and in accordance with the times,” Pierluisi said.
The volume on talks calling for a review of the minimum wage to establish a living wage has been turned up in recent weeks and months, partially over claims from employers who have increasingly said they are having trouble finding and hiring people.
One of the reasons widely cited for that shortage of human resources is the fact that a portion of the population that was laid off as a result of the closings imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic last year began receiving unemployment benefits that often exceed their weekly salaries. Some of those benefits are in effect until September.
The governor’s Advisory Group will comprise three representatives from labor groups, La Fortaleza’s Director of the Office of Public and Program Affairs, Rosemarie Vizcarrondo and the deputy secretary to the government in legislative and regulatory affairs Carlos Rivera-Justiniano.
Also in the group are the heads of the Department of Labor and Human Resources, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish), the Human Resources Administration and Transformation Office (OATRH, in Spanish), the Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, in Spanish), and the Office of Management and Budget.
The private sector will be represented by the,Puerto Rico Society of CPAs, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, the United Retailers Association (CUD in Spanish), the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA, in Spanish), the Puerto Rico Retailers Association (ACDET, in Spanish), the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association (ASORE, in Spanish), the General Contractors Association and three people appointed by the governor.
The Advisory Group will have a maximum of 90 days to deliver to the governor a report in which they must include recommendations on legislation or measures to be implemented to improve wages.
They may include recommendations for amendments or statutes that facilitate their implementation. As part of his constitutional powers, the governor may request additional reports.
The Executive Order cites the most recent results from the US Census, which confirmed that Puerto Rico saw its population shrink by 439,915 people during the past decade.
In addition, labor participation on the island remains at about 40%, lagging in comparison with other US jurisdictions.