ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — It took thousands of signatures, a lengthy court battle and a political campaign.
But after a landslide of a
victory at the polls in November, Albuquerque now has a new minimum wage in effect.
The city's minimum pay her hour jumped from $7.50 to $8.50 when the clock flipped to 2013. For tipped workers, their minimum cash wage went from $2.13 an hour to $3.83.
The raise is exciting to workers like Kyle Hoganson who works at Hinkle Family Fun Center full time.
"That's more money in my pocket which is more money in my bank account which I can save up more for college," Hoganson said. "I don't have to worry about spending all of my money on the bills. I can go out and watch a movie or take my girlfriend out on a nice dinner."
Hoganson and OLE, the group behind the minimum wage push, are hoping workers will take the pay hike and spend it in the local economy. For a minimum wage employee working 40 hours a week, the hike amounts to about a $2,080 annual pay raise.
But some business owners are worried.
Carlo Lucero, president of janitorial services company Sparkle Maintenance, says his business and many others will have to pass on at least part of the increased salary costs to customers.
"It really forces small businesses to adjust, to realize we're going to be doing with less next year," Lucero said.
But Lucero's biggest concern is a provision in the minimum wage law that automatically hikes the city's minimum pay every year to match with the increase in a cost of living index.
"Regardless of the economy, there's going to be an annual increase and in fact on years that have a higher inflation that raise that minimum wage increase will be higher," Lucero said.
The Albuquerque City Council has the power to amend or repeal the minimum wage ordinance with a vote of a simple majority of councilors and the approval of Mayor R.J. Berry, a right it has declined to use so far.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe and San Francisco keep jockeying back and forth for the title of highest minimum wage city in the country. Santa Fe was the national leader through much of 2012 with a minimum pay per hour of $10.29. But San Francisco upped its minimum wage to $10.55 Tuesday. Santa Fe is also expected to up its minimum wage by an amount that is expected to be announced in mid-January and take effect in March.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.