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 V.14 No.37 | September 15 - 21, 2005 

Feature

A Living Wage

We support the ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Albuquerque.

As you know, we're not economists. But, to be sure, we don't want to see any local businesses harmed. In fact, the Alibi is a local business and part of our business is to support other local businesses through effective, widespread advertising. When we say we care about the local economy, it's because our livelihood depends on it.

We realize this is a controversial decision and some folks in the restaurant, retail and service industries are fearful of its ill-effects. But since other cities such as San Francisco, Madison and Santa Fe have already led the way, we suggest folks consider the outcome in these parts and put their fears aside.

For starters, the argument that some businesses will relocate outside of Albuquerque seems doubtful, if far-fetched. Albuquerque is the population and economic epicenter of the state. If anything, the bulk of low-wage jobs in the state will locate to Albuquerque whenever they are looking for a home.

What we can tell you is this: A person making $5.15 an hour in a full-time job earns approximately $10,300 per year, a salary well-below the poverty line, which makes them eligible for every type of federal welfare assistance imaginable. More than 10 percent of the workforce will be effected by an increase in the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.50, according to federal statistics. In Santa Fe, after the minimum wage increased, statistics compiled by New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue and the state Department of Labor indicate gross receipts tax revenue significantly increased, the number of jobs in the retail, food and beverage industries increased by more than 500, the number of folks applying for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program declined (while statewide the number increased over the same time period) and overall citywide unemployment decreased.

Also, any sober economist that isn't being paid by Burger King will tell you that folks getting an increase in pay from $5.15 to $7.50 will spend the extra money and not save it. The result is an infusion of millions of dollars into the local economy. In other words, these folks will, in theory and based on economic data from other cities, spend more money at local businesses.

Lastly, anybody that says the minimum wage should be handled at the federal level is a fool. You know why? Because for the past eight years these elected federal officials have adjusted their own taxpayer-funded salaries upward to meet inflation and cost of living increases but ignored people that need this "adjustment" the most. Meanwhile, at the same time, our federal lawmakers have shackled the citizens of this country with a $400 billion deficit. In other words, why should we depend on the most incompetent, fiscally irresponsible Congress and White House this nation has ever known to enact sensible legislation to help our local economy?

Let's at least decide for ourselves.

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