Minimum wage increase begins today

A recently approved 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage takes effect today.

In New Hampshire, the wage will increase by another 65 cents when a state-mandated hike takes effect on Sept. 1.

Both changes comes 10 years after the last minimum wage increase in New Hampshire.

The new federal law taking effect today changes the minimum wage from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour. On Sept. 1, changes in state law will raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $6.50 an hour. Together, the two changes will yield a 26 percent increase in the state’s minimum wage.

A similar wage increase will take place in 2008. On July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage will increase to $6.55 per hour. State law will raise the hourly wage to $7.25 per hour beginning Sept. 1, 2008.

Employees receiving tips in the restaurant, motel, inn and cabin occupations will receive 45 percent of the hourly wage from the employer. Tips will make up the remaining 55 percent of their pay.

Despite today’s increase and those slated to take place over the next year, the minimum wage in New Hampshire will continue to fall short of the $10.10 estimated to be the state’s lowest livable wage, according to the New Hampshire’s Basic Needs and Livable Wage Report published in 2006 by the University of New Hampshire Office of Economic Initiatives.

According to the report, an hourly wage of $10.10 per adult for a family with two parents and one child is needed to cover the cost of necessary living expenses, including food, housing, utilities (not including television, Internet or cell phone use), transportation, child care, health care and personal expenses. – TRACIE STONE

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