Though Governor Martinez says she is in favor of raising the minimum wage, she vetoed a bill last year to raise it by one dollar to $8.50 per hour citing competitiveness with neighboring states as the reason. Her rationale flies in the face of solid evidence that increasing the minimum wage has no discernable effect on employment.
A study by John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in February of 2013, and the work of Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts conclude as much. Dube, reporting on two decades of data comparing bordering areas in the United States, says that higher minimum wages have no detectable impact on employment.
An increase in New Mexico's minimum wage would be meaningful, affecting nearly 150,000 workers (19 percent of the workforce), of which 56 percent are women. Approximately 87,000 or 16.3 percent of children would be positively impacted.
Economists agree that raising the minimum wage has a direct effect on reducing poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (Mailman School of Health, Columbia University), 29 percent of New Mexico's children lived below the Federal poverty level in 2012, 61 percent of them with a single parent.
If the Governor were to show the leadership New Mexico needs, she would be advocating for a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour over three years as the failed Congressional Harkin-Miller bill proposed in 2013. That bill was designed to restore the purchasing power of the minimum wage to its 1960s level and protect a family of three from falling below the national poverty line.
The Governor's veto and failure to advocate for a minimum wage of $10.10 over three years is based on specious reasoning. It also ignores one of the simplest and most effective means possible to address the significant poverty in our state.