Establishes a committee to study business tax credits for companies that pay a liveable wage and provide adequate benefits to their employees.
Minimum Wage Increase
- New Hampshire’s minimum wage is set to match the federal minimum, currently $7.25 per hour.
- There are exceptions for tipped employees, some students and trainees, and workers in a handful of other occupations, who may be paid a lower rate.
- Recent attempts to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire have failed.
- Pro: The current minimum is effectively lower in buying power than it was in the past and is not enough for a full-time worker to pay for basic expenses such as food, housing and healthcare.
- Con: The minimum wage is intended for entry-level jobs. Raising it will force up other pay rates, increasing costs for businesses which could lead them to cut jobs or refrain from new hires.
The minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate that employers can legally pay their employees.
Minimum wages can be set at the federal, state, or local level, and debates about raising or lowering them are often contentious because of different views as to how they will impact employment rates, tax revenues and economic growth.
New Hampshire state law currently requires the state minimum wage to be the same as the federal minimum wage. This means that in New Hampshire, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
There are some exceptions:
- Workers who get more than $30 per month in tips can be paid as low as $3.27 per hour. (However, if a worker can show that their pay plus tips ads up to less than the minimum wage for the hours they worked, their employer must make up the difference.)
- Workers with less than six months of experience in a job can be paid as low as $5.44 per hour, if their employer gets approval from the New Hampshire Department of Labor.
- Workers who are also full-time high school or college students can be paid a lower minimum wage—or even no wages at all— if they’re being employed to gain professional experience and their school or employer gets permission from the state.
- Disabled workers may be paid at less than minimum wage, but only as part of an approved work training program.
- Certain professions are exempt from the minimum wage law: household and domestic labor, summer camp employees, newsboys, golf caddies, outside salesmen and some ski area employees. Children working for parents or grandparents are also exempt, as are spouses who work in support of their spouse’s business.
All hourly employees in New Hampshire are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week, at a rate of time and a half.
The only exception to this rule is for employees of some seasonal businesses.
New Hampshire passed its first minimum wage law in 1933.
Since then, the minimum wage here has equaled the federal minimum at some times, and exceeded it at others.
However, in 2011, a bill eliminated all references to the state minimum wage from New Hampshire’s state laws, leaving only language that states employees are to be paid at least the federal minimum.
Attempts since then to set a higher minimum wage in New Hampshire have all failed.
Federal minimum wage law
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour. No state can enforce a minimum wage law lower than this rate.
However, federal law does allow for some exceptions, like those allowed under New Hampshire’s minimum wage laws for work training or for tipped employees.
Cities and towns
In other areas of the United States, towns and cities unhappy with low state minimum wages have set their own higher minimum hourly rates.
There is nothing in New Hampshire state law that clearly prohibits municipalities from setting a minimum wage of their own—but nothing in state law necessarily allows it, either. For example, regulating wages isn’t listed in state statues governing the sort of bylaws towns can set.
The matter hasn’t yet been put to the test in New Hampshire, as no town or city here has tried to set its own minimum wage.
Policies in other states
New Hampshire is one of 21 states that tie their minimum wage to the federal level. There are also five states with no minimum wage. In those states, the federal minimum also applies.
Several states have minimum wages set higher than the federal level, ranging from $7.50 in New Mexico to $12.50 in Washington, D.C.
Finally, there are two states, Wyoming and Georgia, where the state minimum wage is set lower than the federal minimum. This wage would only apply to workers exempted from the federal minimum, such as casual babysitters or newsboys.
Currently, New Hampshire is the only state in New England to use the federal minimum wage, with all other states in the region setting a higher rate.
Other areas of controversy
Indexing minimum wage increases
In eighteen states, increases in the minimum wage are tied to one or more indexes, such as the statewide median wage, the regional consumer price index, or other measures of inflation.
- Supporters argue that indexing helps ensure that minimum wages continue to have the same buying power.
- Opponents argue that automatic indexing could make wages get out of hand.
Full wages for tipped employees
Only eight states require tipped employees to be paid the same minimum wage as other workers. Some states set their own tipped employee minimum, while others use the federal minimum of $2.13 per hour.
- Supporters of continuing to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage argue that tips more than make up for the lower hourly rate, and that paying servers the same minimum would be unfair to non-tipped workers like kitchen staff.
- Opponents argue that tipped workers are more likely to live in poverty, and that tipped workers rarely call out their employers when their tips and pay don’t add up to the regular minimum rate.
Lower wages for students, young people and the disabled
In New Hampshire, students, young people and the disabled can be paid lower wages only as part of approved work training programs.
- Supporters of continuing or expanding this policy argue that it encourages employers to give younger or less able workers a chance to gain experience.
- Opponents argue the lower wages are a form of exploitation.
PROS & CONS
“New Hampshire should raise the minimum wage.”
- A full time worker earning $7.25 per hour makes less than $300 per week. In New Hampshire that’s barely enough to cover housing, never mind other living expenses. (According to an MIT study, a single person in Concord needs to earn $23,590 per year before taxes in order to afford basic necessities such as food, rent, and healthcare. Working full time at $7.25 means an annual income of around $15,000.)
- Minimum wage workers generally have to spend every dollar they earn, which means any increase in their wages goes straight into boosting the revenues of businesses in their communities, helping to support the economy.
- New Hampshire’s minimum wage has actually lost purchasing power over the past several decades, making it a lower effective wage than before.
- It’s not just young people or those just entering the workforce who are paid minimum wage. Three out of four minimum wage workers are over the age of 20.
The preceding points were made by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute in a March 2014 article, “Long Since Due: An Increase in New Hampshire’s Minimum Wage”.
“New Hampshire should not increase its minimum wage.”
- Raising the minimum wage will make it harder for businesses to create entry-level jobs for young and first-time workers. If New Hampshire wants to increase the demand for more hourly workers, making it more expensive to hire them is not the way to go about it.
- Only 3.5% of workers in New Hampshire actually earn the minimum wage or less. Over half of these are tipped employees who generally earn much more than $7.25 per hour.
- Most minimum wage workers receive a raise within the first year they’re employed.
- Forcing small retail or service companies, like those that dominate New Hampshire tourism industry, to pay the same high wages as big corporations could put them out of business.
- Studies have shown that if minimum wages are raised, hours for some low earners will be cut or companies will reduce their payroll in order to even out their costs. That means fewer available jobs, particularly for new or low-skilled workers.
- Raising the minimum wage will force increases in hourly wages all the way up the pay scale, increasing costs that will have to be made up through cutbacks elsewhere.
The preceding points were made by Bruce Berke, state director for the New Hampshire branch of the National Federal of Independent Business, in response to a 2014 effort to raise the minimum wage.
Prohibits an employer from requiring an employee who earns less than $15 per hour to enter a noncompete agreement.
Gradually increases the minimum wage for tipped employees to the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, starting January 1, 2020.
Increases the minimum wage for employers that do not offer health benefits to the employee. This bill also gradually raises the minimum wage for all employees.
Raises the minimum wage to $9.50 in 2018 and $12 in 2019, with annual cost of living adjustments starting in 2020. The bill also establishes a training wage that is one dollar less than the minimum wage for the first three months of employment for someone sixteen or seventeen years-old.
Repeals the state minimum wage law.
Raises the minimum wage to $8.50 On September 1, 2017, $10 on March 1, 2018, and $12 on September 1, 2018.
Gradually increases the minimum hourly rate for tipped employees to the full federal minimum wage by 2020.
Raises the minimum wage to $8.25 in 2017, $9 in 2018, and $9.50 in 2019.
Raises the minimum wage to $12 per hour.
Prohibits employers from employing individuals with disabilities at an hourly rate lower than the federal minimum wage except for practical experience or training programs and family businesses.
Raises the minimum wage to $9.10 in 2016, $11.40 in 2017, and $14.25 in 2018. Starting in 2019, the minimum wage is adjusted according to cost of living.
Raises the minimum wage to $8.25 in 2016, $9.00 in 2017, and $10.00 in 2018.
Raises the minimum wage to $16 per hour.
Enables counties and municipalities to establish minimum wage rates for all individuals employed within such county or town.
Establishes a state minimum hourly wage to be adjusted by the cost of living index, starting at $8.25 in 2016.
Prohibits employers from employing individuals with disabilities at an hourly rate lower than the federal minimum wage except for practical experience or training programs.
Creates a committee to study ending the payment of sub-minimum wages to persons with disabilities.
Raises the minimum wage, starting at $9 per hour.
Sets the state minimum wage at $7.25, in place of federal minimum wage.
Ties the New Hampshire minimum wage to the federal minimum wage.
Should NH raise the minimum wage?
Rep. Peter Schmidt and Rep. Howard Moffett have both proposed bills for 2019 related to the minimum wage. The details of those bills aren't yet available. Rep. Schmidt has been a vocal supporter of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Rep. Moffett also vocally supports raising the minimum wage.
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