With Too Many Working Granite Staters Struggling to Survive on $15,000 a Year,
New Hampshire Faith Leaders, Labor Leaders, Low-Wage Workers Join Stop Along 11-State Tour Sponsored by Americans United for Change, Call on Senator Kelly Ayotte to Vote to Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.10
Washington DC – Americans agree: No one who works should live in poverty. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to workers around the country earning the current minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, the price of food, gas, utilities, and basic necessities certainly has not with inflation, making it nearly impossible to live anywhere in America on $7.25 an hour or $15,000 a year. It’s long past time for Congress to give America a raise. And to help drive the point home, Americans United for Change has hit the road with the 11-State “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour supporting President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. The latest stop: Nashua, NH outside the public library. With the backdrop of 45’ long, 16 ton anti-poverty billboard on wheels and with invaluable support from New Hampshire Citizen Alliance for Action, Granite State Progress, and AFSCME, Americans United was joined by Obama administration official Laura Fortman, Gail Kinney, pastor of the South Danbury United Church of Christ and a local low-wage worker, who urged Senator Kelly Ayotte to help hard working Granite Staters climb out of poverty and one rung closer to the middle class over by voting to boost minimum wage. The tour will end outside the U.S. Capitol on April 3.
According to MIT, the living wage in Nashua is $21,422 a year to be able to afford housing, medical care, transportation and food. If full-time New Hampshire workers made $10.10 an hour, they’d earn $21,008 a year. A new report out today from the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that raising the minimum wage would increase wages for 113,000 workers in New Hampshire by $143,575,000 if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10, and that this wage increase would generate $90,883,000 of economic activity in the Granite State.
Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “After the recession, the economy is starting to pick up. Businesses are doing better. The stock market is doing better, but wages for 30 years, overall for most workers, have been flat. It’s been more than five years since New Hampshire minimum wage workers have gotten a raise – workers that include child care providers, janitors, and nursing assistants and who are 35 years old on average. It was hard enough to live on $15,000 a year in 2009, and it’s near impossible in 2014. What stands today in the way of stronger economy built from the middle out are Tea Party Republicans in Congress who only seem to care about voting for minimum tax responsibility for huge corporations that outsource jobs. Raising the minimum wage would provide a needed boost not just for the millions of struggling low-wage American workers that can barely survive on $7.25, but for the U.S. economy as a whole. Now the last time I heard anything from Senator Ayotte on the minimum wage was when a constituent asked her about it at a town hall meeting and her answer- if you can even call it an answer since she didn’t say what she would or wouldn’t vote for – is that she’d rather work to create jobs. Then her big job creation idea was to repeal a tax on medical devices. Enough said. Let’s be clear Senator Ayotte: A bill to raise the minimum wage is a bill to create jobs. It will create jobs because it puts more money in the pockets of workers who will quickly inject it back into the economy. Millions of people with more money to spend on goods and services means businesses will need to hire more workers to meet the demand. Decades’ worth of research done after previous minimum wage increases shows nothing but net economic benefits as a result, which is why so many successful business leaders and over 600 economists including seven Nobel Laureates are calling on Congress to raise it again now.”
Laura Fortman, U.S. Labor Department's Principal Deputy Administrator, Wage and Hour Division: “Workers have seen a real significant decline in the purchasing power of the minimum wage for more than 45 years. Real people have experienced this. We’re not just talking about teenagers. The average age of a minimum wage worker is 35. We’re talking about working adults – the people who drive our kids to school on the bus, serve us our food in restaurants, the people who clean our schools and our places of business, assist us in hospitals.”
Gail Kinney, pastor of the South Danbury United Church of Christ: “Every low wage worker in this state and in this country who work full time yet remains trapped in poverty is left behind in our economy and is being treated in our economic system as the last and the least. We as a nation can do better than this. It is not only a moral imperative; it is an economic imperative. We MUST do better than this if we are to preserve our democracy and repair the destructive and explosive economic divide in our nation between the haves and the have nots. Whether you are 16 or 66, if you’re on your feet all day or night cooking or serving so-called fast food; or stocking grocery shelves; or running a cash register; or cleaning bed pans or hotel rooms; or caring for two-year-olds or for someone’s grandmother – that all work has dignity and value. That work deserves respect. And that work, in this day and age, is worth more to our society than $7.25 per hour. When we find ourselves, as religious leaders, repeatedly having to minister to individuals in our own pews who are frightened – and worse – by their inability to “make it” despite working as hard and as many hours as they possibly can – it’s time to raise the wage.”
Anita Mendes, a low-wage worker from the Mondandock region: "The things that are different in my life are that I have less social ability. I can’t go and meet somebody for lunch. That means, for me, that I don’t get to say hello, I don’t get to check in, I don’t get the emotional support. On Sunday, when I went to my Quaker meeting, I didn’t just think about getting from my house to the Quaker meeting, but what can I do in between? I loaded the laundry, brought the grocery list, and made all of those stops so that I could save my gas. Yes I dry my clothes at the laundry; I don’t dry them all the way. I take them half-wet home, hang them up on a clothesline… If we had a bigger minimum wage, I might be able to afford those last three quarters."