SANTA FE — Come March 1, Santa Fe’s living wage will rise to $10.51 an hour, a 22-cent increase, city officials announced today.
That puts the City Different second behind San Francisco, which requires an hourly rate of $10.55, for the highest publicly mandated wage in the country.
A Santa Fe ordinance requires that wage increases be recalculated every year based on a federally determined annual consumer price index for the western United States. In 2012, the index rose by 2.09 percent.
“This cost-of-living increase ensures that we will not leave the lowest paid workers behind,” Mayor David Coss said in a news release issued by the city.
“We will also continue to work with our partners to grow high-wage jobs in Santa Fe. With 13 straight months of job creation, we have the best job growth rate and lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan area in New Mexico. The Living Wage gives us an important floor and we will continue to reach higher,” he said.
However, a significant coalition of business owners and others say it’s time to freeze the rate. A few city councilors have even publicly indicated that it might be time for a change.
Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce president Simon Brackley said the organization will continue to lobby to freeze the wage at the current level, $10.29 an hour.
“We still believe that automatically increasing the minimum wage will only serve to increase the cost of living in Santa Fe and place additional burdens on local businesses,” Brackley said.
Brackley said he hopes to release a position paper on the issue this week.
The living wage ordinance was originally adopted in 2002, with an initial rate of $8.50 an hour and a provision for regular increases that would have meant a rate of $10.50 by 2008.
In late 2007, after negotiations with the business community, the City Council axed the planned increase to $10.50 and replaced it with the annual cost-of-living adjustment.
Over the past few years, Santa Fe and San Francisco have traded places in the race for the highest living wage. Santa Fe was on top in 2012 at $10.29 an hour.