A Glimpse into Our Future

Recently, Albuquerque became the fourth city in the nation to impose its own local minimum wage, following the lead of Santa Fe despite the well-documented harm to The City Different’s low-skilled workers. Before we can begin to measure the effects of this mandate on the state’s largest economy, Governor Richardson is set on imposing this scheme on the entire state, and the state Legislature has been happy to comply.
For a glimpse of what this policy holds for New Mexico’s future, all we need do is look to our neighbors to the west. Arizona’s state-wide minimum wage of $6.75 per hour has been in effect for just six weeks, but already the negative, yet foreseen consequences are beginning to show themselves: “cutting hours, instituting hiring freezes and laying off employees,” preventing inexperienced and low-skilled workers from gaining the experience and skills they need to move up in the labor market and earn higher wages.
Some of us learn this lesson the hard way. For me, the 1996 increase in the Federal minimum wage meant fewer hours flipping burgers at Dairy Queen in high school, the evening shift trimmed from three cooks to two. And some of us never learn–it wasn’t the minimum wage that kept a young Bill Richardson from being drafted to play professional baseball. But hey, he’s doing “what’s right for the working men and women who drive our economy.” Even if that means putting them out of work.