Raising the New Mexico Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage is an important and effective strategy for reducing poverty particularly given the erosion of the purchasing power of the state wage since it was last raised in 2009. In New Mexico, approximately 112,000 workers are earning the current state minimum wage of $7.50. In January, New Mexico lawmakers should act to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2018. While this increase should not be considered a living wage, thousands of families would benefit.

There will probably be a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour in the 2016 legislative session. That would be the first minimum wage increase for the whole state since the present minimum wage of $7.50 took effect in January of 2009. This report assumes an increase in two steps, to $8.50 an hour in 2017 and to $10 an hour in 2018. In 2018, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), there will be about 771,000 workers statewide making an hourly wage in New Mexico. The EPI estimates that 112,000 workers would be directly helped by raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. An additional 79,000 workers would be indirectly affected – their wages would rise due to spillover effects from raising the wage to $10. The total number of workers affected would be 191,000 or almost 25 percent of hourly workers. This report describes the characteristics of these low-wage workers and looks at the EPI’s estimates of the wage impacts of raising the state’s minimum wage.