Commentary: The recent meeting at Lynn Middle school and commentary by Phil San Filippo in the Las Cruces Sun News about potential impacts of increases in minimum wage addresses only one side of the debate—the effect on business owners. By the way it only goes from $10.10 an hour to $10.25 an hour on January 1, 2020—big deal.
Are people aware that only amounts to about $21,000 a year for a full-time worker? With the current cost of housing, medical bills, food, education and transportation who can afford to exist on that salary? That is below the poverty line. Don’t tell me that is only what early entry workers earn. Fewer than 10% are young people that just entered the workforce, whereas more than half are prime age adults who must support a family.
In Las Cruces, 70% to 80% of retail workers are associated with out-of-state corporations like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Dillard’s, Call Centers, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Village Inn, etc. They can well afford a decent wage for their workers. The minimum wage in Colorado, Arizona and Oregon is higher than here and they are doing just fine—as well as locally owned businesses.
Some speakers at the Lynn Middle school meeting said that El Paso is booming, and workers are doing well at $7.25 an hour (really). They should ask them about health care, because Texas ranks last nationally for health care access and affordability. Besides, patrons in Las Cruces are not going to travel there for food and services for a few cents differences in cost.
When are we going to learn that when you pay workers a decent salary the economy does better, because they spend their money locally and have more commitment to their job? Also, businesses compete on an equal level, because they all must pay a similar wage.