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Bill would raise state minimum wage to $10 per hour

Jan 08, 2019

BY: Citizens Count

A bill from Rep. Peter SchmidtHB 178, would increase of the state minimum wage to $10 per hour. The change would take effect 60 days after the bill was passed. 

Currently, New Hampshire’s minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum, which sits at $7.25 per hour.

Read about the history of the debate over the minimum wage in NH

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.

Read our analysis of what the power divide could mean for policy in 2019 

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? 

Leave a comment below to have your say on this issue, and we’ll present your views to legislators debating these bills, as part of our 2019 Citizen Voices® campaign. 

Only responses from New Hampshire residents will be included. Please indicate if you are from New Hampshire in your response.

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Minimum Wage Increase | 9 comment(s)
Should NH raise the minimum wage?

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Representative, NH House of Representatives (2002 - present); Retired University Instructor; Veteran, U.S. Marine Corps

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