Policy Documents

Santa Fe's Living Wage Ordinance and the Labor Market

Aaron S. Yelowitz –
September 23, 2005

In 2004, citizens of Santa Fe, N.M., voted to approve a “living wage” ordinance, one of the first municipal laws of its kind in the country. Despite a then-booming New Mexico economy, when compared to data from elsewhere in the state where Santa Fe’s $8.50 an hour “living wage” does not apply, the law’s ill effects on employment become clear.

This study by the Employment Policy Institute showed the ordinance was responsible for a 3.2 percent increase in unemployment and 1.6 fewer hours of work a week for wage earning employees. This economic suffering was almost entirely distributed among the least educated and skilled workers in Santa Fe.