From the Round House

How do I know an arbitrary increase in the minimum wage will hurt low-wage workers? Simple, I was one.

It may be easy to believe an increase in the minimum wage is appealing because I don’t know anyone who would turn down a raise. The jobs that pay minimum wage often require the maximum work and no one would say it is easy. I can support a modest increase in the minimum wage without imposing burdensome mandates on businesses. However, it is those very workers I worry will be harmed the most if we force a government wage increase on New Mexicans.

Arbitrarily raising the minimum wage leads to hours being cut for workers who want to be on the job at the very least, and to closing entire businesses at worst. We need to look no further than Las Cruces in just the last two months to see the real consequences. In early December where business owners came together to tell the City Council just how much the minimum wage increase to $10.10 would harm the businesses that provide critical jobs. One of the worst hit businesses include children care centers because many parents cannot afford increased child-care costs that will come with an arbitrary minimum wage. It is clear business owners, workers and parents will be hurt and they’re not alone.

My first real job in high school was at a great restaurant in Truth or Consequences called La Piñata. The owner struggled to keep the doors open which meant that I could only be paid in the tips I earned. This was a great opportunity as a high school student because the job paid in cash every day I worked. La Piñata is one of the places I leaned that hard work makes a difference between mediocrity and success. My tips depended on my service unless there was another factor reaching in to control the transaction, specifically the government.

Tipped workers are the first to feel the negative consequences of arbitrary cost increases. Not only will it keep potential customers at home, those who do go out to eat will tip less regardless of my service. The math is simple: prices for food and gas are set, but a tip is negotiable. If we increase the minimum wage for tipped workers I can guarantee tips will be less and ultimately hurt the workers we want to support.

Common sense policy that supports both workers and businesses is what’s needed and what I can support.