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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Report: 2.2% of New Hampshire workers make less than minimum wage

An estimated 8,000 people in New Hampshire, or 2.2 percent of the state workforce, earned less than the minimum wage last year, according to federal survey data released as a ground-breaking took place on a Job Corps Center in Manchester designed to help youths find good-
paying jobs.

The percentage of New Hampshire workers who earned less than minimum wage in 2012 was less than the case nationwide (2.6 percent of workers below minimum) or in Massachusetts (2.9 percent below minimum). ...

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An estimated 8,000 people in New Hampshire, or 2.2 percent of the state workforce, earned less than the minimum wage last year, according to federal survey data released as a ground-breaking took place on a Job Corps Center in Manchester designed to help youths find good-
paying jobs.

The percentage of New Hampshire workers who earned less than minimum wage in 2012 was less than the case nationwide (2.6 percent of workers below minimum) or in Massachusetts (2.9 percent below minimum).

The New Hampshire percentage has fluctuated a bit from year to year, increasing from 2007-10 and decreasing since, but the 2012 figure was almost unchanged from the 2.1 percent figure of a decade earlier, in 2002.

The percentage of the New Hampshire workforce earning minimum wage roughly doubled between 2007 and 2010, to a little more than 1 percent. During that period, the federal minimum wage was raised from $5.15 to the present $7.25. New Hampshire’s state minimum wage is the same as the federal rate.

The data was released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, is based on the Current Population Survey conducted monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau, which among other things is used to determine the unemployment rate.

The report does not say why people were making less than the federal minimum hourly wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows certain types of jobs, including people who work for tips and those who work on commission, to receive less than the $7.25 legal floor.

On Tuesday, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez joined New Hampshire officials for a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for a new Jobs Center, a residential education and job training complex to serve low-income youth ages 16 to 24, with a focus on jobs in the homeland security, health care and hospitality areas.

New Hampshire is one of the last states to get a job corps center. The program, which requires that participants abstain from alcohol and illegal drug use and also complete vocational training or receive a GED while enrolled, has been successful.

According to official figures, last year 75 percent of the program’s graduates were either successfully placed in a job or are currently pursuing higher education.

Planning on the center was stalled in 2009 over a “project labor agreement” that would’ve required contractors to negotiate with union officials and abide by collective bargaining agreements.

Opponents said New Hampshire, with the smallest unionized construction workforce in New England, would lose out to out-of-state unionized contractors.

The work eventually went to a Bedford contractor. Work is scheduled to be completed in December 2014 and enroll 150 students by June 2015.

U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas also participated in the ceremony.