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March 14, 2014

N.H. minimum wage advances in House

Increase to $8.25 next year, $9 in two years

A New Hampshire House vote to establish a minimum wage of $8.25 an hour next year and $9 an hour in two years is drawing praise and some criticism, too.

The House approved the minimum wage under House Bill 1403 on a 173-118 vote Wednesday; it now heads to the Senate.

Gov. Maggie Hassan would sign it into law if the Senate approves.

“I applaud members of the House of Representatives for their recognition of the need to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage,” Hassan said. “This measure will help improve the financial security of working families and people of all ages and will support businesses by putting more money in the pockets of their consumers.”

New Hampshire now follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the lowest in New England.

Massachusetts House speaker Robert DeLeo has proposed raising the Bay State’s minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10.50 an hour by 2016.

President Obama recently issued an executive order providing for a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour for contracted workers delivering services to the federal government. He also wants Congress to approve a $10.10-an-hour federal minimum wage.

New Hampshire House Republican leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, criticized the House vote.

“This bill will negatively affect our job climate in New Hampshire and threaten the viability of many small and medium sized businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, which many workers in our state depend on,” Chandler said. “For many small employers, a government mandated 24 percent wage increase is just not affordable, and they may have to reduce their overall number of employees or try to raise prices to compensate. In this economy, this is not a viable option.”

But others saw it differently.

“New Hampshire’s current minimum wage leaves workers struggling to get by,” said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Raising the minimum wage and ensuring it is adjusted for the cost of living in future years would help families make ends meet, boost sales at local businesses, and put New Hampshire on a path towards an economy that works for everyone.”

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