Today, many on Guam will get the day off to mark the Labor Day holiday.

Government of Guam employees were treated to a picnic.

For many private-sector employees in the food, tourism and other service-oriented industries, there won't be a day for a picnic. And chances are many in the private sector are working today – many more than the usual holiday skeleton staff in the public sector. 

This Labor Day, like many other past commemorations of this holiday, we thank the countless Guam workers who toil even during this holiday.

We also hope that the holiday, and in other days, elected officials will gain enlightenment and decide on future policies and laws to treat private sector workers fairly rather than creating laws that look after the welfare of primarily just the GovGuam workforce.

The 2020 budget law that senators passed Saturday evening sustains a nearly billion-dollar budget at the expense of many private sector workers' ability to stretch their budgets amid higher prices of goods. Instead of reducing the government's expenses, the 2020 government budget keeps a higher tax that has kept the prices of food and other necessary items sky-high.

Meanwhile, the budget affords GovGuam workers a generous health care insurance provision – health insurance for GovGuam must include Guam private hospital coverage – at the expense of many taxpayers in the private sector who are struggling to afford even the most basic health insurance that only covers hospitalization at the problem-plagued public hospital.

And while the cost of food and housing on Guam is higher than many places stateside, private sector wages on Guam are far lower in comparison with the mean wages for the same jobs stateside.

Workers on Guam had an average hourly wage of $17.57 in May 2018, about 30 percent below the nationwide average of $24.98, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. Labor Department has noted that after testing for statistical significance, wages on Guam were lower than their respective national averages in all 22 major occupational groups, the U.S. Department of Labor has stated.

The U.S. Labor Department's wage numbers from May 2018, the latest available on this data for Guam, show the disparity between the mean hourly wages on Guam and in the nation's.

• Management jobs: $33.60 on Guam, a -43% difference when compared to the national average 

• Business and financial operations jobs: $25.72, -30%  

• Computer and mathematical jobs: $24.84, -44%  

• Architecture and engineering jobs: $29.00, -31% 

• Life, physical and social science jobs: $26.84, -27%  

• Community and social service jobs: $22.30, -6%  

• Legal jobs: 35.18, -33 % 

• Education, training and library jobs: $21.82, -20%  

• Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media: $17.88 -38% 

• Health care practice and technical jobs: $33.55, -15% 

• Health care support jobs: $13.28, -15% 

• Protective service  jobs: $18.08, -23% 

• Food preparation and serving-related jobs: $10.24 -17% 

• Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance jobs: $10.27, -29 % 

• Personal care and service jobs: $10.97, -19% 

• Sales and related jobs: $11.86, -41% 

• Office and administrative support jobs: $14.25, -24% 

• Farming, fishing and forestry: $13.56, -6%  

• Construction and extraction: $15.21  -38% 

• Installation, maintenance and repair: $16.32, -31% 

• Production $14.98, -20% 

• Transportation and material moving $14.44, -22% 

This disparity must be addressed. Otherwise, we will see more departures from among the most hardworking and most talented members of our labor force.
 
And when they leave, we might not see them come back.
 
Our community needs to better care for its most valuable resource: people. 

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