Minimum wage increase to go into effect in Albuquerque

Posted at: 12/31/2012 9:43 PM
Updated at: 12/31/2012 10:16 PM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Thousands of people in Albuquerque will be making more money starting Tuesday.

The minimum wage increase goes into effect in Albuquerque January 1, 2013, increasing the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. Employees that get health care or child care will still make $7.50 an hour.

City voters approved the increase during  November's General Election.

Will Tanner is a minimum wage employee for Sonic. He said with a wife and two kids, the previous minimum wage meant six-day weeks and not much family time. He hopes that will change.

"Buy more necessities for my family over not having anything. Like I get a lot of help from everybody else, so for me to be able to make my own money, or more money than I was making, I should be able to do it on my own now," Tanner said.

But Mayor Richard Berry, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Restaurant is in favor of the increase. Restauranteurs are concerned they will have to cut jobs or stop hiring. The city said it will hurt small businesses, even pulling an additional $500,000 over the final six months of the 2012-2013 fiscal year from the city.

Restaurant owners are upset because starting in 2013, tipped employees will make 45 percent of the minimum wage plus tips. In 2014, it will increase to 60 percent of the minimum wage plus tips. Additionally, if the tips and minimum wage does not equal $8.50 per hour for employees, the restaurant will have to make up the difference.

Travis Parkin owns Guerrilla Graphix in Nob Hill and Old Town. He thinks businesses will benefit from the wage increase.

"That people are going to be spending more money in their business, and they're, hopefully, going to actually find that they're going to increase employee hours," Parkin said.

Tanner said it is in the self interest of employers to have this new increase.

"If they want to be saving money, then they've got to look at their workers, and how happy and reliable the workers are, and what they will be making. A happier worker will get your better work," Tanner said.

The minimum wage increase also states that come 2014, if the Consumer Price Index shows that the cost of living increased in Albuquerque, the minimum wage would go up again.