“Cities, too, have enacted laws raising pay for low-wage workers. In 2003, Santa Fe, New Mexico adopted a citywide $8.50 an hour living-wage law with regular cost-of-living increases. At the time, Sam Goldenberg, a business leader, predicted that the law “would be a disaster for the businesses in Santa Fe.” And restaurateur Al Lucero called the plan economically irresponsible and argued that “people will be so content with $8.50 or $10.50 an hour that they’ll have no desire to improve themselves.”
Nearly 10 years later, the rate is now $10.29 an hour, and Santa Fe has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 5.1 percent. Jeff Mitchell, a senior research scientist at the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, found “no evidence of adverse effects” from the wage hike. Santa Fe’s tourism industry is doing fine. Travel + Leisure magazine last year listed Santa Fe in its top 10 U.S. and Canadian travel destinations for the 11th consecutive year.
In 2003, San Francisco voters also adopted a citywide minimum-wage law. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association called it a job killer that would “bankrupt many restaurants.” The Association of Realtors said that many hospitality industry workers were “likely to receive pink slips and join the ranks of the unemployed.”
Wrong again. A 2007 study by University of California economists found that after San Francisco’s minimum wage went up, restaurant growth was higher in the city than in neighboring East Bay cities. In December 2012, the city’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, well below the statewide average, and job growth in bars and restaurants has led the region’s post-recession recovery.
In November, voters in Albuquerque and San Jose passed ballot measures that will raise the minimum wage for workers in those cities. Albuquerque’s citywide minimum wage rose from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour last month and will automatically adjust in future years with inflation. In San Jose, the minimum wage will increase from $8 per hour — the current minimum wage in California — to $10 per hour starting next month and will adjust automatically in future years to keep pace with the rising cost of living.”
-Peter Dreier, Raising the Minimum Wage is Good for Business