Potential change to federal minimum wage could have significant impact on New Hampshire

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New Hampshire businesses may soon have to double minimum wages if President Joe Biden keeps his campaign promise to raise the national rate to $15 per hour.

Currently, New Hampshire’s minimum wage matches the federal rate of $7.25, but that could change soon according to Concord business and tax lawyer John Cunningham. He expects it could come with a bill aimed at the economic fallout of COVID-19.

In a recent piece for The Concord Monitor, Cunningham laid out arguments both for and against a minimum wage hike before ultimately coming out in favor of an increase. He told The Center Square that the representative figure of a single mom earning below the national poverty level is one of the biggest reasons a $15 minimum wage increase should happen.

“They’re going to use it to pay for rent and food, and buy slightly nicer clothes for themselves and their children, and maybe even shoes, and so the money gets immediately plowed back into the economy and helps everybody,” he told The Center Square.

One of the biggest arguments against a minimum wage hike is that businesses can’t afford it. The coronavirus already has many businesses fighting for to stay open.

Bruce Berke, New Hampshire state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), said it’s a particularly bad time to put such a heavy burden on so many businesses that are clearly struggling.

“Now if you tack on a significant cost of doing business, you’re just making it that much more difficult for these businesses to consider keeping their doors open,” Berke told The Center Square.

He adds that very few workers in New Hampshire are even at the minimum wage level, and a minimum wage hike ignores the market.

“It’s artificial, it’s going to lead businesses to either make fewer jobs available, cut hours, or in some cases businesses will become more automated, and as a result, fewer jobs,” Berke said.

For Cunningham, the issue is compassion.

“It’s gender discriminatory, it’s people of color discriminatory and it’s inhuman,” Cunningham said of leaving the minimum at its current rate.

Berke sees it from a different angle.

“What would be uncompassionate in this case is people would get fewer hours, and perhaps people would lose some jobs, and I think the people who are pushing for these artificial wage hikes have never run a business,” Berke said.

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