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Feb 19, 2016 5:21 PM

Landrigan: Conference held to discuss NH's minimum wage, how working families can benefit


CONCORD - A conference was held by the Fiscal Policy Institute to discuss New Hampshire's minimum wage and the financial hardships that working families find themselves facing.

Attendees of "Making Ends Meet" discussed the issue of families facing higher living costs, including everything from housing and health care to electricity and comparing them to other parts of the country.

"NH follows the federal minimum wage at $7.25 so that’s the lowest minimum wage in the United States,’’ said Ben Zipperer, research economist with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Today experts are arguing that the effect of raising it here would be less, because incomes are relatively high.

"The bite of the minimum wage- how many workers the minimum wage would affect were you to move it and increase it," Zipperer said. "That bite is lower in New Hampshire than it is elsewhere."

"In the Seacoast area of New Hampshire if you look at actual housing costs, the costs of food, the costs of transportation, the costs of health care, it’s comparable actually to living in a city like Chicago,’’ said David Cooper, a senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

With New Hampshire businesses gaining more activity, their workers have not gained benefits.

"In fact here in New Hampshire during 1979 to 2013 labor productivity climbed by more than 106 percent while hourly wages for the typical worker grew by only 33 percent,’’ said Jeff McLynch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute who sponsored the event.

Why is making ends meet such a challenge for some in New Hampshire? It’s because we’re both a high wage and high cost state.

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