New year brings in a new minimum wage

Posted at: 12/31/2013 9:48 AM
Updated at: 12/31/2013 5:32 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some good news for Albuquerque's hourly workers may lead to big headaches for employers.

Beginning Wednesday, January 1, the regular hourly minimum wage in the city of Albuquerque jumps 10 cents.

But for one group -- tipped workers -- the hourly wage will jump a dollar and change.

The base hourly pay for a waiter or waitress is right now $3.83 an hour, before tips.

In 2014, that jumps to $5.16.

"When I get a check, it's maybe a hundred dollars. Which is not a lot for 2 weeks' worth of work," said Dylan Constand.

Constand works a lot -- about 35 to 40 hours a week -- but it's hard to tell from what he brings home.

"I'm not sitting in a cubicle or on an assembly line," said Constand.

He's not complaining about his job as a waiter at Lindy's restaurant downtown. But an extra dollar and change every hour sounds great to him.

"People are trying to live off the minimum wage, and if they need to live off that, then it needs to be higher," he said.

January 1 in Albuquerque, it will be.

But there's another side of the coin.

"It's not like business is increasing at all," said Lindy's owner Dawn Vatoseow.

Even in the same room it's clear how the wage increase affects employees and their employers differently.

"If it's not there, you can't give it to them," said Vatoseow.

Vatoseow says the increase is a double-edged sword.

She loves seeing workers like Constand happy, but business isn't exactly booming.

"Certainly there should have been some distinguishing factor in the law if you have less than 50 employees, or less than 20 employees, then you're exempt from it," she said.

Not this year. The increase affects all hourly workers.

The regular hourly wage will increase from $8.50 per hour to $8.60 per hour.