Every day millions of Americans wake up and go to work. They are always chasing their own version of the American Dream: that long-held ideal that if you work hard enough and long enough you can succeed.
For many, this dream is having the financial security to own that suburban house with the white picket fence. Two little kids and the dog running through the back yard, while mom and dad are prepping for a barbeque dinner on the patio.
This Norman Rockwell vision of the American family has pushed people to always try harder, and to do whatever it takes to reach the ultimate goal of financial security.
Sadly for many Granite Staters, every day they go to work that dream is turning into a nightmare. They slave at work for hours on end, while their paychecks are being stretched thinner and thinner. Every day is a struggle to pay their bills and they are constantly falling further and further behind. A $15,000 a year salary does not go very far when you have family.
Nobody who has tried to live on a minimum wage income would ever say that these people are lazy. Just surviving on a minimum wage income is hard work.
Low-wage workers are not “just teenagers” as some may imply; they are adults. 70% of minimum wage earners in NH are over the age of 20, 36% of them are over the age of 30, and over 14% of them have at least one child. Many of them work two or three jobs just so their children do not have to go to bed hungry, every night. Unfortunately going to bed hungry is a stark reality for too many children.
We are the richest nation in the world, yet we have children in our own country who are literally starving. How is this even possible? I do not have the answer to this question, but I know that we can do something about it.
Raising the minimum wage is a simple and effective solution to help millions of working families. States across the country have pushed legislation to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour, to $9.00 an hour. Some have even gone as high as $15.00 per hour.
When you are living in poverty, every penny matters. For the 75,000 Granite Staters who are living on minimum wage incomes, an increase to $9.00 would add $300 a month to their take home pay. I guarantee you that every dollar of that additional $300 would be spent right here in our local shops and businesses. If you are struggling to pay your bills today, there is not much saving for tomorrow.
The NH Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire would add an additional $60 million to our local economy.
This is a political slam-dunk. It is good for the 75,000 people who are living in poverty and trying every day to just survive. It is good for our economy, because when low-income workers have money, they will spend it. It is good politics, seeing that over 70% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage.
People do not want a hand out, they want to earn what they bring home. They want to work for an honest pay that actually will pay the bills. That is the real American Dream, and by raising the minimum wage, we can make that dream a reality.
* * *
If you are interested we will be holding a “lobby day” at the NH State House on Tuesday April 22nd. Details here