SANTA FE – Santa Fe’s mandatory minimum wage on March 1 will rise to $10.51 an hour, a 22-cent increase and second only to 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.
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.
Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, said wage hikes like these – and Santa Fe’s in particular – hurt minorities, decrease opportunities for entry-level job seekers such as teenagers and others, and do nothing to reduce poverty rates.
“Minimum-wage increases lead to fewer job opportunities in the cities and states where they pass, and Santa Fe is no exception,” Saltsman said in a statement.
“With Bernalillo County considering whether to increase its own wage, and following the recent reports that Albuquerque’s minimum-wage hike has already caused cutbacks at local restaurants, it is crucial that New Mexico’s policymakers consider the employment consequences of their actions,” Saltsman said.
Brackley said, “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.”
Over the past few years, Santa Fe and San Francisco have traded places for the highest living wage. Santa Fe was on top in 2012 at $10.29 an hour.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal