The Puerto Rico Senate approved an increase in the island’s minimum wage on Thursday.
Legislation would raise the minimum to $ 8.50 per hour on January 1, 2022 and to $ 9.50 per hour on July 2023. A third hike to $ 10.50 per hour has been agreed for July 1, 2024, but subject to review of a newly created minimum wage appraisal commission.
As of 2009, the island’s minimum wage has been $ 7.25 an hour, the federal standard. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $ 9.23 today.
The Senate approved the measure by voting. The House of Representatives of Puerto Rico passed a similar measure on August 18 with 29 votes in favor and nine against.
Governor Pedro Pierluisi is also proposing an increase in the minimum wage. However, its version has different amounts and dates and would create a commission independent from the legislature to evaluate further increases.
Pierluisi has the option to veto the law, but that veto could be overridden if it happens.
A spokesman for the Puerto Rico Oversight Board said of an increase in the minimum wage: “We will review the law when it is presented to us.”
According to the Board’s approved budget, the increases in federal transfer programs in the 1970s created “a negative work incentive at times because of benefits that were high relative to formal labor market wages.” Increasing the participation of Puerto Ricans in the labor market is one of the goals of the Board of Directors.
On the flip side, when the board was formed in 2016, there was some discussion about asking Congress for a reduced minimum wage for Puerto Rico.
The news website El Nuevo Día quoted Juan Zaragoza, one of the sponsors of the Senate bill, as saying that the board had informally informed him that the bill was OK.