New Mexicans weigh in on minimum wage increase

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As of Sunday, minimum wage workers will be seeing an increase to $12 an hour compared to $11.50 from last year.

Tipped employees are seeing an increase to $3 an hour – up 20 cents from $2.80 from last year.

Many employees are just hearing about this too.

“Super cool, that is super cool. I’m very excited about that personally,” said one worker. 

“Knowing that I’m making more money and I can help my family out with expenses, and pay for my own stuff, kind of becoming more independent and growing up; it’s really relieving,” said a high school worker. 

This is the third and last installment of raising minimum wage in New Mexico after a 2019 state law that was in effect to raise pay over the last three years.

According to the New Mexico Restaurant Association, in Albuquerque, the minimum wage for tipped employees is at $12 an hour while Santa Fe employees see $12.95 an hour.

Something one employee noted was how most minimum wage workers still lived off of tips, and that with a lower hourly wage, it wasn’t always the most sustainable.

“It would be a crazy-packed day and we would make no tips — it would be like $5 between all of us, so I think having a higher base pay is going to be a lot nicer,” said the worker.

And while discussing the effects of inflation over the last few months, one Old Town employee believes raising the pay even by a little could bring some positive in the future.

“I think raising the minimum wage is the right incentive to get a little bit better and for people to like where they work more,” the worker said.

While this is a raise for people who work minimum wage, it’s also worth noting that lawmakers are pushing for higher wages for as soon as 2024 – setting a goal of $16 an hour.

Clarification: KOB 4 spoke with the owner of Old Town Cafe. She said her employees are paid $12 an hour plus tips, above what is required by the state.