Someone earning minimum wage in the Virgin Islands would make $240 per week while working full-time. In one month, that number would be about $960 before taxes and social security.
In an economy pinched by inflation and rising housing costs, government is establishing a committee to review the minimum wage, which was raised from $4 to $6 in October 2016, according to Deputy Premier Lorna Smith.
“The government is conscious of the many economic challenges the people of the [VI] face,” said Ms. Smith, who is also the minister of financial services, labour and trade. “We must all put our shoulder to the wheel — government, employers and employees — to ensure that individuals on low incomes do not bear a greater share of the burden than they should.”
A 2022 review of social assistance in the territory by the Belgium-based Social Policy Research Institute found that the $6 minimum wage is “well below” what’s needed currently, Ms. Smith said during a press conference last Thursday.
In response, she added, her ministry has established an ad hoc advisory committee that will undertake a review to determine an appropriate minimum wage.
“The review will be comprehensive, transparent, and involve the expertise of a diverse range of stakeholders to ensure inclusive participation and perspective,”
Ms. Smith said. “Importantly, it will also report by the end of March 2024.”
The 16-person committee includes representatives from various sectors and was appointed by Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, according to Ms. Smith.
Its inaugural meeting is set for Nov. 21, and a final report is due within four months of that date, she added. To accomplish its work, the committee will have access to experts including economists, statisticians, financial analysts, and other government officials, she said.
“The review of the minimum wage is only one part of a wider assessment by the government of how we can address the cost-of-living challenge across the [VI],” she said. “We know our people need to be better supported, and I expect to make further announcements on this in the near future.”
Prior to the October 2016 increase to $6, the minimum wage had stood at $4 per hour since 1999.