BY: Citizens Count
Currently, New Hampshire’s minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum, which sits at $7.25 per hour.
Rep. Schmidt argues that his bill takes a balanced approach: weighing the need for workers to be paid a decent living wage against the needs of businesses. “With concern for a living wage also must come balance,” Schmidt says. “Businesses face higher labor costs, and cost of benefits are equally an issue. The 30-hour work week is coming into play to reduce benefits. … We need to be growing in jobs in existing businesses and attracting new quality employers as well to New Hampshire.”
A stronger chance in 2019
With a Democratic majority in control of both branches of the New Hampshire Legislature, there’s certainly support for an increase to the minimum wage. In the past, with a Republican majority, bills like HB 178 were uniformly shot down.
However, Gov. Chris Sununu has previously stated his belief that the minimum wage in New Hampshire should stay tied to federal levels, which means any attempt to raise the wage might need to muster a veto-proof majority in the Legislature.
More than one option on the table
Rep. Schmidt’s proposal is one of several attempts to raise the minimum wage on the table this year. Another bill, HB 186, gradually raises the minimum wage from year to year to $12 per hour, and then ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index. HB 186 also increases wages for tipped employees and creates a special lower “training wage” for new, younger employees.
Another proposal from Rep. Kristina Schultz is not yet public, but Schultz has previously stated support for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Weighing the options
Supporters of Rep. Schmidt’s bill argue that it is a straightforward, moderate approach to the issue that will be simple for businesses to administer. At $10 per hour, New Hampshire’s minimum wage would still be lower than that of all the surrounding states, which range from $12 per hour in Massachusetts to $10.78 per hour in Vermont. This keeps the Granite State attractive to potential employers.
Opponents of the bill fall into two camps.
First are those who believe that NH should not impose a minimum wage higher than that dictated by federal law. They want to keep the choice of what to pay workers in the hands of business owners and are concerned that a higher minimum wage will be bad for the economy. Some even go so far as to argue that there should be no minimum wage at all, federal or otherwise.
Second are those who would prefer an approach with a higher minimum wage, a path for continued increases in the future, or a bill that has special provisions for tipped employees and workers-in-training.
Make your voice heard in NH’s minimum wage
Where do you stand on the minimum wage in New Hampshire?
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