SAIPAN – The Department of Commerce will launch its 2019 prevailing wage survey on March 28.

The Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp., which is assisting the department in conducting the survey, made a presentation on workforce issues during a meeting of the Society for Human Resource Management NMI Chapter at Charley's Cabaret at the Pacific Islands Club.

NMBAC President Alex Sablan said the NMI U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 requires a prevailing wage survey each calendar year before the U.S. Department of Labor can issue a temporary labor certification to employers who want to hire workers on CW-1 permits. The 2016 prevailing wage survey for the CNMI expired in January.

The CW-1 visa classification allows employers in the CNMI to apply for permission to employ foreign workers who are otherwise ineligible to work under other nonimmigrant worker categories, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sablan said, without a new prevailing wage survey, employers applying for CW-1 permits for their workers will have to use Guam's prevailing wage rates that the local economy cannot support.

The CNMI, he added, must complete a 2019 prevailing wage survey to be conducted sector by sector, the largest of which is the service and hospitality industry including hotels and other tourism-oriented businesses.

Matthew Deleon Guerrero, of Hive Analytics, the company that will conduct the survey, said after DOL approves the methodology the company will start Phase 1 of the survey.

In collecting the necessary data, he said Hive Analytics will propose deploying an online survey that aims to capture the most essential data points while reducing employer time and resources in completing the questionnaire. Answers will be solicited for the following questions: company name; its North America Industry Classification System, or NAICS number; island on which the business operates; village in which the business operates; total employee count; point of contact phone number; and email of point of contact.

The project is expected to be completed by June 30.