Raising the bar: New Hampshire’s minimum wage needs to rise; how much is the question

Mar 10, 2020

The minimum hourly wage an employer can legally pay workers is rising in 23 states this year, thanks to recent legislation. Thanks to one of Gov. Chris Sununu’s record number of vetoes last year, New Hampshire is not among those states.

In fact, it’s been more than a decade since the minimum wage in the Granite State — tied to the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour — has risen.

Meanwhile, the rates in nearby states have risen quite dramatically. In Massachusetts, the rate has been raised from $8 an hour in 2010 to $12.75, the second-highest in the nation, behind Washington. That’s a 59 percent hike in a decade.

In Maine, the rate has gone up 60 percent, from $7.50 to $12.

In bucolic Vermont, lawmakers late last month overrode Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s veto to raise that state’s minimum wage from $10.78 to $10.96 for 2020. Next January, it will rise to $11.75; in 2022 it goes to $12.55, and then becomes tied to the inflation rate.

Again: In 2020, the minimum hourly wage rates in nearby states are: Vermont $10.96; Maine $12; Massachusetts $12.75. And in New Hampshire it’s $7.25.

Little wonder, then, that Granite State businesses can’t find workers, even for the most basic of jobs; or that young adults fresh out of school are heading elsewhere. No surprise, then, that those earning minimum wage rates can’t afford housing here.

And this in a state where the median household income is the nation’s eighth highest. That ought to tell you a lot about income disparity and the so-called New Hampshire Advantage.

Read More