Today’s NH AFL-CIO Scholarship essay winner is Tyler Tambouris. Tyler’s father Michael is a Sheet Metal Worker (local 17). Tyler is attending River University this year. This essay won Tyler second place in the scholarship essay contest.
To Raise, or Not to Raise: That is the Question
Should New Hampshire enact a State minimum wage, which would be higher than the Federal limit? To this question, I would absolutely answer yes! I have read several articles and spoken to many people regarding raising the minimum wage. I have heard both sides of the argument and seen facts that go for and against both sides. I am convinced that raising the State minimum wage would do more good than harm.
In all the articles I have read, this topic seems to be a Republican versus Democrat debate. It sounds as if the majority of the Republicans think that raising the minimum wage would hurt our economy by causing many people to lose their job. They think that if the pay goes up, companies will no longer be able to afford all the workers so they will have to let many go. This in turn will cause people to rely on the system more and spend less. However, I also read the data that showed what happened to the states that did raise the minimum wage, and the facts overwhelmingly prove those Republicans wrong. It showed that although there was some job loss in the beginning, it was substantially lower than stated and only lasted for a short time. Overall, because people were making more money, they were also spending more in local businesses, which eventually lead to hiring more people. It was a win, win situation.
When I read that minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since September 1, 2008 it really hit home how wrong it is to not pass the Bill to raise it. Think of gas alone and how much the price of it has gone up in just the past 2 years. Minimum wage has stayed the same for almost 6 years, however, every expense has gone up, one just cannot survive on less than $300.00 a week. The minimum wage just hasn’t kept up with the cost of living.
Until four years ago, my best friend’s father was a financial worker making almost 6 figures. They lived very comfortably in Merrimack, NH. In 2008, he was laid off from his company. They provided him a severance package that ran out after 6 months. During that time, he searched and searched for any comparable job, but there was nothing. He had to get on unemployment and his wife, who was an educational assistant, had to get a second job. This still wasn’t enough; there were threats of their house being taken away. Grandparents had to step in and use their retirement money to help them make the bills every month. After a year of searching for a job and collecting unemployment, my friend’s father entered a depression because he realized there just were not any jobs available for an older financial man. He finally got a call from a retail store, however, he would start at minimum wage. This family has had to rent out rooms in their house, and rely on the grandparents to help them. They now live week to week, every penny accounted for. My best friend tells me about how they can’t even afford good food. He usually comes to my house to get a nice home cooked meal, because healthy food is much more expensive than junk food or the dollar menu from McDonalds.
One article I read was from a politician that challenged himself to survive on minimum wage for one week, one week!!! He stated that he had $74.00 for food, gas, and just any incidental we need day to day. This money had run out by Thursday. He was forced to walk 2 miles to work and meetings, and eat junk food because it was so inexpensive. Never mind if he got sick, there was no money for the doctor or medicine.
After thinking about all the articles I have read, and all the people I have spoken with, it just seems like the only thing that will help the people of New Hampshire and New Hampshire’s economy, is to raise the State Minimum Wage. New Hampshire’s minimum wage is the lowest in New England, why is it that our politicians don’t see the benefits? Yes, there was evidence of some employees losing their job immediately after raising the minimum wage, however, the long-term effects show improvement in the state’s economy.
Not only would it be beneficial to the people that are working in these jobs, data shows that low wage workers, out of necessity, usually spend every dollar they can in local grocery stores, gas stations, and businesses. Raising their wages would also raise the money they would be spending.
Another benefit would be for the businesses paying higher than minimum wage. Data has shown that the workers will spend more time with a company if they are making enough to live. This will save the company money in having to frequently train workers. Their employees will also be happier working for them, which will improve their work production.
In conclusion, raising minimum wage would be a boost of the economy in New Hampshire. No matter what the scenario, there will be downsides to either choice. But, I strongly feel that the upsides of raising minimum wage definitely outweigh the downsides of it. Not only will it boost the economy, but it will help people to live a better lifestyle!