On Jan. 1 the New Mexico minimum wage will grow to $9 an hour from its current rate of $7.50 thanks to a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. This moves New Mexico from one of the lowest wages in the country to join most other states in raising pay for workers. Our rate will further build to $10.50 in 2021, $11.50 in 2022, and $12 in 2023.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham passionately believes nobody should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. This boost will help hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans live better. Wages have not kept up with rising costs, and workers at the federal rate of $7.25 now make 25% less than workers in 1968. Furthermore, the vast majority of workers on the minimum wage now aren’t teens. They are adults working full time.
Women of color and children benefit from this pay raise the most – over 100,000 New Mexican kids now (are) living with a parent earning low wages. Studies consistently show higher wages for low-income families mean more children are healthier, do better in school and are less likely to be neglected or abused.
Higher minimum wages also help local economies as workers making better wages don’t buy stocks. They pay rent, fix cars, buy school supplies and see a movie once in a while. The state with the lowest unemployment, Vermont, will have an $11 minimum wage on Jan. 1 while our neighbor to the north, Colorado, has the fourth-lowest unemployment with a $12 wage. Both show that paying workers fairly and a great economy go hand-in-hand.
Some cities and counties have higher wages that will increase in the New Year. On Jan. 1, Albuquerque’s wage will raise to $9.35 an hour and Las Cruces’ will be $10.25. Bernalillo County’s wage will be $9.20 for businesses not in Albuquerque’s city limits. The city and county of Santa Fe will both be at $11.80 starting March 1.
For those making tips working as servers and bartenders, the tipped wage will raise from $2.13 an hour to $2.35 this year and eventually to $3 by 2023. Any employer must ensure all servers get the minimum wage if they don’t make enough tips to cover the difference between it and the tipped rate. Tipped wages also differ in areas with their own minimum wage ordinances, so if you are a business or worker please verify that your paychecks are correct.
All information about minimum wages in the state can be found on the Department of Workforce Solutions website, www.dws.state.nm.us/Minimum-Wage-Information. The department has also engaged with businesses to create two webinars, found at the minimum wage website, for employers on best practices to comply with the law. One is for the standard wage and another specifically targets tipped workers.
Employers and workers should know that the state will enforce the highest wage available. As an example, it is illegal to pay an Albuquerque worker $9 an hour when the city rate is higher at $9.35. If you think you are not getting the minimum wage, are being shorted hours, not receiving overtime, or not getting tips, these are crimes and it’s no different from having money taken from your piggybank. If you feel you are a victim of this practice, please contact the department’s Labor Relations Division to file a complaint at 841-4400 or online at www.dws.state.nm.us/Labor-Relations/Labor-Information/Wage-and-Hour.
New Mexico should work for everyone, and guaranteeing all get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work gives everyone a chance to thrive.