As a worker’s rights issue, wage protection is appropriate addition to NM constitution
ALBUQUERQUE—If the statewide minimum wage was raised to $8.50 an hour, as currently proposed in Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR-13), it would impact more than 91,000 workers outside of the city of Santa Fe and Bernalillo County, which already have minimum wages at $8.50 or higher.
Such an increase would put almost $50 million in their pockets, and most of that money would be spent in the local economy. That’s one of the conclusions of a report released by New Mexico Voices for Children.
Such a raise would impact more women than men, more Hispanics than Whites, and more full-time workers than part-time. Surprisingly, the largest share of workers impacted by the raise is adults between the ages of 20 and 29, and the largest sector to be impacted is education/health care.
“People have lots of misperceptions about minimum wage workers, but this report dispels them,” said Gerry Bradley, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst for NM Voices and report author. “We can no longer consider minimum wage jobs as ‘entry level.’ Too many middle-wage jobs have disappeared and been replaced by low-wage service sector jobs.”
The report also notes that 21 states have minimum wages higher than the federal rate and 10 are indexed to rise with inflation. SJR-13 also includes this indexing provision. If passed, SJR-13 would allow the voters to decide on the wage raise by amending the state constitution, which some lawmakers have criticized. “Five states address the minimum wage in their constitutions,” Bradley said. “It makes perfect sense given that the minimum wage is a worker’s rights issue. That makes it a human rights issue and entirely appropriate for the state constitution.”
The report, “Raising the New Mexico Minimum Wage: Helping Those Who Need it Most,” is available online here.
New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. Its fiscal policy work is funded by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Working Poor Families Project. Contact New Mexico Voices for Children at 625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, 505.244.9505 or www.nmvoices.org.