Santa Fe Living Wage: A Case Study
“The Santa Fe metropolitan area provides an ongoing real-time experiment in the impact of a fairly high minimum wage on the economy. Santa Fe currently has the strongest economy in New Mexico. Since April of this year, Santa Fe employers have been required to pay a minimum wage of $10.29 an hour.
The Santa Fe Living Wage ordinance initially set the Santa Fe wage at $8.50 an hour in 2004. It was raised to $9.50 in 2006 and, because it is indexed, has increased at regular intervals since that time. The unemployment rate in Santa Fe County—at just 4.7 percent—is the lowest of New Mexico’s four metropolitan areas. Job growth in Santa Fe is now at 2.1 percent, which may not seem impressive until one considers that the other three metropolitan areas are still losing jobs. Most of the job growth was in the leisure and hospitality sector—the sector most affected by the living wage floor.
The record in Santa Fe demonstrates that it is possible to have a fairly high cost of living and a fairly high minimum wage along with low unemployment and strong job growth.”