Opinion: Raising the state minimum wage will boost New Hampshire’s economy

Today in New Hampshire there are 47,500 workers earning the $7.25 per hour
minimum wage.

As President of the largest Labor organization in New Hampshire, I support
current legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

We stand with workers across our state that are unable to make ends meet
even though they get up every day and go to work in full time or multiple
part time jobs.

For them, and for all of us, this is about justice and dignity, and the
promise of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

These workers and their families are frequently forced to forgo basics-food,
housing, clothing-and far too many rely on public assistance to survive in
this economy.

This is an all too common situation, where full time workers are forced onto
government programs like food stamps and state assistance for needy
families, effectively subsidizing some of the largest and most profitable
corporations in this state. We should insist that employers are paying
adequate wages that keep full time workers off of the public assistance
rolls.

Once and for all let’s put to rest the myth that minimum wage jobs are held
mostly by teenagers. Today, less than one quarter of minimum wage workers
are teenagers. Most are supporting families and work full time. The median
age of a low wage worker is 34 years old. And two thirds of minimum wage
earners are women.

The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25
an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, these families have
little or no hope of providing for a better life for their children.
Opponents of this bill say that raising wages will eliminate jobs and
depress the economy. Most economists agree that that this is not the case.

Passing this bill would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and
boost the New Hampshire economy.

A recent study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found
raising the minimum wage would create jobs while causing no reduction in the
availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth.

Unfortunately, the fastest growing sectors of our economy are in low wage
industries such as food preparation and retail sales. To rebuild a strong
middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, we must pay fair
wages in these growing sectors.

Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

According to the UNH Survey Center, over 70% of New Hampshire residents
support raising the minimum wage. Let’s listen to the people and pass this
legislation.

Mark S. MacKenzie is President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO

Author: Mark S MacKenzie

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