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With increase to $14.25, minimum wage in Massachusetts nearly double NH's

cash and coins
Chuck Cars
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/carstensenphoto

Minimum wages are increasing in five of six New England states in 2022, led by Massachusetts, which reaches $14.25 an hour on January 1.

Connecticut follows later in the year, with an increase to $14 on July 1.

The only New England state not raising its minimum wage is New Hampshire, which remains tied to the federal minimum of $7.25, along with 19 other states.

After two years in which Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed increases passed by the New Hampshire Legislature, the proposal didn’t even get that far in 2021. In April, the state Senate voted 14-10 to block an increase.

At the time, state Sen. Bill Gannon argued relatively few workers actually get the minimum, but said the increase will “deny entry-level jobs to young kids."

Nationally and in New Hampshire, wages have risen during the pandemic, as has inflation.

Supporters noted that some 12,000 New Hampshire residents — not all of them young people — make minimum wage, and that an increase would also boost wages for others on the lower end of the pay scale.

State Sen. Donna Soucy wondered why the state was giving up this power to Washington.

"We cannot continue to do that,” Soucy told the Senate. “It is not the New Hampshire way."

Without action this coming year by the state or federal governments, New Hampshire’s minimum wage will be less than half that of Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2023, when both states will reach $15 an hour — a level activists have pushed for across the country

Rhode Island’s minimum wage is scheduled to hit $15 in 2025, under legislation signed in May by Gov. Dan McKee. Rhode Island’s wage increases in 2022 to $12.25.

Elsewhere in New England, increases kick in next month in Maine and Vermont, to $12.75 and $12.55, respectively. The rate in those states will also go up gradually in future years, although the consumer price index will influence by how much.

Sam Hudzik has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He manages a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.