FARMINGTON – With the start of 2020, New Mexico saw its first statewide minimum wage increase in over a decade.
On Jan. 1, New Mexico’s minimum wage increased to $9 an hour from $7.50 an hour, according to the state. The last statewide increase was in 2009. The recent raise is part of a gradual four-year minimum-wage increase signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019. One of Lujan Grisham’s campaign promises was to enact a minimum-wage increase.
The law will increase the statewide standard until it reaches $12 per hour by 2023. Workers who are partially paid from tips, like servers, will also see their minimum pay increase from $2.13 per hour to $3 by 2023.
While the increase of the minimum wage went into effect Jan. 1, some places, such as Santa Fe and Las Cruces, had previously established their own minimum wages higher than the state’s current rate.
While New Mexico’s increase surpasses the federal minimum wage of $7.25, it’s still shy of Colorado’s, which increased 90 cents from $11.10 per hour to $12 this year. This was the final of three annual increases that the state Legislature passed into law in 2017.
Although Colorado’s wage increased, a 2019 article by The Durango Herald said it has not kept pace with the rising cost of living in the area. A single person would need to earn at least $13.47 per hour to cover living expenses in Durango.
Colorado is not the only state in the area that saw its minimum wage increase to $12 per hour. Arizona completed its third and final annual increase to reach $12, following guidelines laid down by a state law passed in 2017.
Among the Four Corners states, Utah is now the only one using the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
When the legislation was first proposed in New Mexico, it included terms to ensure the state’s minimum wage kept pace with inflation – similar to earlier laws passed by Colorado and Arizona – but that stipulation was ultimately stripped from the bill before it passed.
Supporters of the minimum-wage increase in New Mexico say it was a long time coming, after previous Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed two bills to increase the hourly rate in 2017.