Weekend News & Commentary — July 7, 2019
New Hampshire is coming closer to raising their state minimum wage. In June, both houses of the New Hampshire Legislature passed Senate Bill 10. The law would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $12/hour by 2022 for all minimum wage workers. The shift would be significant; New Hampshire’s minimum wage is the same as the federal rate, $7.25 and the lowest in New England. Neighbors Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts all have state wage floors above $10/hour. Local advocates note that the measure is necessary to ensure workers can afford their basic needs, with one report highlighting that New Hampshire’s minimum wage workers would have to work 128 hours/week to afford an average 2-bedroom apartment in the state, the equivalent of 3.2 full-time jobs. The initiative would give a pay boost to 13,000 workers—3% of the New Hampshire workforce. Only 2.1% of workers nationally earn the minimum wage, so New Hampshire’s initiative would have an outsized effect and help them catch up to the rest of the region. The bill passed without any Republican support in either house and some worry that Republican Governor Sununu could use veto power to reject the bill.
Democrats in the House of Representatives remain hopeful in their attempt to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. The Raise the Wage Act should head to the floor this month. A federal minimum wage increase has been endorsed by near all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and has proven to be a popular policy initiative among voters. Vox reports that the bill would directly raise the wages of 28.1 million workers nationwide. The federal minimum wage has not been raised in more than ten years, the longest period since its enactment.
Ten current and past female FBI employees are suing as a class in federal court, alleging systemic gender bias and discrimination at the Bureau. In Bird v. Barr, the women describe experiencing a hostile work and training environment due to their gender. This week, a federal judge allowed the suit to proceed while many of the plaintiffs remain anonymous, citing security concerns related to their ongoing employment in law enforcement.
After disappointing results in May, the June jobs report shows better figures, with an expanding workforce and a low unemployment rate at 3.7%. 224,000 jobs were added in June, in several sectors, including a modest rebound in manufacturing. However, even after 105 months of job growth, wages have not kept par. As Lolita noted on Friday, 40% of Americans don’t feel they’ve benefitted from the economic upturn. The Washington Post reports that while the current economic expansion has lasted longer than the growth of the 1990’s, the benefits have been less evenly distributed, and some have called this a “two-tier recovery.”