If Seattle restaurateurs think a 61 percent increase in the minimum wage is precipitous, just look at what their cohorts in Santa Fe County, New Mexico are going to have to deal with:
The Santa Fe County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in Santa Fe County from $7.50 per hour to $10.66 per hour.
The ordinance passed by the commission also calls for employees who normally receive more than $30 per month in tips or commissions to be paid a base wage equal to 60 percent of the new so-called “living wage."
The lowest allowable hourly rate for those employees will increase from $2.13 per hour to $6.40 per hour. Both new wage standards are set to take effect in 60 days.
The new minimum wage will be increased annually by the percentage of increase — if any — that occurs in the Consumer Price Index, and the base wage for tipped employees will increase in relationship to the new minimum wage.
That represents a 200 percent increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees, 42 percent for everybody else! And unlike Seattle, where our hike to $15 will almost certainly be phased in over several years, Santa Fe County's wage hike happens all at once, and in only 60 days. That's not much time for businesses to adjust to the new reality.
Opponents relentlessly warn that sudden massive hikes in the minimum wage inevitably lead to mass extinctions of small businesses. Looks like Santa Fe County will test that thesis before Seattle does.
In other minimum wage news, the Los Angeles City Council has unanimously voted to authorize a study on raising the minimum wage for workers at large hotels to $15.37 an hour. By the time Seattle's minimum wage hits $15, that number may not look so radical anymore.