FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2016
CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) today convened Making Ends Meet: Enhancing Economic Security, Fostering Shared Prosperity to examine a range of policy solutions that can help to ease the struggles New Hampshire’s working families face.
“New Hampshire has one of the higher costs of living in the nation, leaving many working families to face a substantial gap between what they earn and what they must spend on essentials — from housing and groceries to health care and child care,” said NHFPI Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “New Hampshire should pursue a comprehensive strategy that addresses both sides of the equation, boosting stagnant incomes and bringing the cost of basic necessities within closer reach.”
The event opened with a review of basic family budgets for New Hampshire, presented by David Cooper, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute.
“For most regions of New Hampshire, costs for housing and child care alone exceed what many low wage workers bring in,” said David Cooper. “In Concord, a single parent with one child faces costs that are more than twice what they would earn working full time at $10 an hour, forcing untenable choices between food, rent, heat, and basic necessities.”
The first panel discussion examined low wages and workplace policies that make it difficult to care for family needs. Panelists outlined an array of strategies that can boost wages and incomes, from increasing the minimum wage and ensuring access to paid leave to creating an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increasing financial assets. Panelists included Holden Weisman, state and local policy manager, CFED; Ben Zipperer, research economist, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; and Jeffrey Hayes, program director, job security and income quality, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
A second panel of state and national policy experts examined New Hampshire’s high cost of housing, child care, and health care and discussed policy changes that can make these basic necessities more affordable. Panelists included Helen Blank, director, child care and early learning, National Women’s Law Center; Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Elissa Margolin, director, Housing Action New Hampshire.
“Access to affordable health care is essential for families to achieve economic stability,” said Judith Solomon. “The reauthorization of New Hampshire’s Health Protection Program would ensure individuals have the ability to address health concerns before they become serious conditions and increase the chances that they can remain in the workforce.”
The event concluded with a keynote address by Dr. Katherine S. Newman, provost of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a distinguished author, researcher, and lecturer who has dedicated much of her career to the study of poverty, inequality, and economic opportunity in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Newman is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America and Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.
“For far too many families across this country, the economic downturn accelerated the steady erosion of their economic security and sent them into a downward spiral toward poverty,” said Dr. Newman. “There is no single solution to reverse this trend. We should take a systems approach to addressing their challenges, so that working families have the ability to provide a solid foundation for their children and increase their access to economic opportunity.”
The event’s nearly 140 attendees, which included New Hampshire legislators, business owners, nonprofit and community leaders, and concerned citizens, were provided with an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the numerous financial challenges facing low-wage earners and policy changes that can enhance their economic stability.
NHFPI’s third annual policy conference, Making Ends Meet was made possible with the support of presenting sponsor National Education Association-NH (NEA-NH), supporting sponsor Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and the following partner organizations: Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, New Futures, Full Circle Consulting, and Kieschnick Consulting Services.
The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.