Is a Minimum Wage a Fair Wage?

Sadly for the people of New Hampshire, the minimum hourly rate of pay is the lowest in all of New England. The per hour rate in New Hampshire is $7.25, which is the National minimum wage.

Want to earn more per hour? Just look to Vermont, where the rate is $8.46 or Connecticut where it is $8.25. Massachusetts’ minimum wage is $8.00, while in Maine it is only $7.50 – just twenty-five cents higher than New Hampshire’s rate.

Last year New Hampshire lawmakers did away with the NH minimum Wage law that allowed the state to set its own minimum wage.  Our law was amended to link with and mirror whatever the Federal law dictates.  In other words, New Hampshire does not have its own minimum wage law anymore; instead it now relies on the federal laws. At the time, House Speaker William O’Brien claimed, “There is no reason for New Hampshire to set ourselves higher than the national average and make ourselves less competitive for these workers who need to gain experience.”

Let’s do the math.  If you are earning the minimum wage and working a 40 hour per week schedule, your gross annual income is $13,920.00.

In 2006,  The University of NH Economic Initiatives and the North Country Council, Inc. released the NH Basic Needs  Livable Wage report for our state.  Note – there has not been an updated report since 2006.  According to the report, in 2006, a livable wage in NH ranged from $10.10 to $19.50 per hour.  Obviously these amounts have increased since then, as housing and other living expenses have risen each year. And, clearly, workers earning the minimum wage are not receiving livable wages.

A livable wage is a wage sufficient to pay for basic needs such as:

  • food
  • rent
  • utilities
  • basic telephone service
  • clothing and household expenses
  • transportation by automobile
  • child care
  • health care
  • a small allowance for personal expenses

Note – there is no room for personal savings in this equation.

The issue of an insufficient minimum wage is not going away.  In support of our All In To Win plan adopted at the June Council meeting, and our shared SEIU vision to address income inequality as part of a just society, it’s  time we open a dialog with the leaders of New Hampshire who seem intent on keeping our workers at the lowest possible income level.  Save the date, July 24th!

On that date we will participate in a National Day of Action addressing minimum wage laws and how they are hurting the middle class. Look for more information in upcoming News and remember, joining the action on July 24th is a great, fun and simple way for you to be “All In To Win!”

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