The minimum wage in the United States of America is a controversial topic, with debate raging from coast to coast. Nowhere is this debate more relevant and pertinent than in the state of New Hampshire. The current minimum wage set within the state is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum, yet the path to this level has been widely contested.
In March of 2019, the New Hampshire House Of Representatives passed House Bill 183, proposing to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour over a 5-year period. This would make New Hampshire’s minimum wage the fourth highest in the nation. The Republican-led legislature, however, narrowly voted down the bill. Despite public outcry, the majority of legislators leaned more on economic arguments than popular opinion.
The argument against an increase in the minimum wage revolves around two general premises; first, Republicans argue that smaller businesses, local businesses, non-profits and non-governmental organizations would not be able to pay staff once an increase was made. Arguing that their lower operating budgets would not be able to handle these increased wages. Secondly, Republicans point out that the current unemployment rate of 2.7 holds steady in the state and any dramatic increase in wages could possibly cause businesses to layoff staff.
The debate for a higher minimum wage in New Hampshire has been well-documented, but the subject has not been laid to rest yet. Supporters of a higher wage have pointed out that New Hampshire has one of the largest gaps between the wealthiest and poorest in the nation and an increase in the minimum wage would help close this disparity. Supporters and economists have also pointed out the many benefits a higher wage would bring, such as an increase in spending among those in lower economic brackets leading to an increase in overall economic activity.
The minimum wage controversy in New Hampshire is far from over, as legislators and citizens alike battle in the legislature to change the state’s wage minimum. With the state’s wage gap so wide and its minimum wage relatively low, the fight for a better wage could help bring New Hampshire more into line with the rest of the nation. From strong public outcry to staunch opposition, the minimum wage debate will remain active in the state for the foreseeable future.