Monday, September 1, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;70.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-09-01 07:09:40
Sunday, February 2, 2014

How many NH workers would be affected by a minimum wage hike? More than it seems

Even if the federal government raises the minimum wage, as President Obama wants to do, most people in New Hampshire won’t be affected, right?

Wrong, although it’s hard to say exactly how wrong it is. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

Even if the federal government raises the minimum wage, as President Obama wants to do, most people in New Hampshire won’t be affected, right?

Wrong, although it’s hard to say exactly how wrong it is.

The statement certainly seems reasonable, since 96.5 percent of the hourly workforce paid hourly already makes above the minimum rate.

The complication is that many workers in New Hampshire make only a little bit more than the minimum rate of $7.35 an hour. An increase in that minimum – particularly one as large as the $10.10 figure suggested by the president – would raise their pay, too.

How much would it increase pay, and for how many? That depends on the raise, of course, but the rate that Obama suggested would affect tens of thousands of people in New Hampshire.

As of 2012, there were 64 labor categories in the state, roughly half the entire list of categories, in which the average entry-level wage was below $10.10 – often far below.

Surveys run by New Hampshire Employment Security, for example, say that people working in the category “cooks, fast food” had an average entry-level hourly wage in 2012 of $8.15; maids were at $8.16; actors at $8.27; parking lot attendants at $8.29; “farmworkers, farm and ranch hands” at $8.52; and veterinary assistants at $8.60.

These are average starting wages, or the mathematical mean; which means many workers in each category make less than this when they start.

Even if the minimum was raised by just $1, which is more in line with the level of increases in the past, it would still be more than the average entry-level pay for more than a dozen job categories.

It’s impossible to say exactly how many New Hampshire workers would be affected, because data isn’t broken down to that level.

A think tank called the Economic Policy Institute estimated in December that a $10.10 minimum wage would directly affect 12.8 percent of all workers in the country. In New Hampshire, it estimated that 77,000 people currently make less than that rate, although that figure is extrapolated from national data.

The EPI estimated that a $10.10 minimum wage would affect 9.7 percent of working men and 14.7 percent of working women, a reflection of the larger number of females in low-paying occupations such as cleaning.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, about 370,000 people earned an hourly wage in New Hampshire. Of those, 5,000 people (1.5 percent) earned exactly the $7.25 minimum wage and 8,000 more (2 percent) earned less than minimum because they were in professions exempt from the wage law, usually because pay was supplemented with tips.

Everybody else – 357,000 people – already makes above $7.25 an hour.

New Hampshire is one of 19 states that follows the federal minimum wage law. The state’s own minimum wage law was abolished in 2011, although several proposed bills would resurrect the law so that New Hampshire could increase the level if it chooses.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).