Minimum Wage – Bad for Small Businesses, Worse for Workers

Minimum wage advocates would have you believe that business owners arbitrarily and sometimes capriciously set wages based solely on what they can get away with. That to own a business means that you are wealthy and most damning of all, that the wealth of a business was unfairly earned at the expense of those employed.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Most small businesses have less than 20 employees. They’re your mom and pops, your entrepreneurs, and your refugees from the job crisis.  They’re also people who have put their homes and savings on the line in order to pursue their dream, earn a living, and provide over 127,000 jobs to New Mexicans.

Small business owners really aren’t that different from the people they employ except they’re intimately familiar with 3:00AM insomnia while trying to figure out how to make payroll. Most have foregone their own paychecks so that an employee can have theirs, and all small business owners stand to lose far more than a job if their business fails.

And until you’ve sat across the table from an employee and had to tell them that you can no longer afford to keep them despite their ability, their value to your company, and the friendship that developed over many years of working together, you can’t understand the sense of loss and failure that a business owner experiences when they are forced to let an employee go.

Commissioners O’Malley, Stebbins, and De La Cruz would like to make the burdens small businesses carry even heavier and at the same time make it more difficult for teens and entry-level workers to find a job.

The Commissioners minimum wage proposal would raise the first rung on the job ladder higher than it is in surrounding counties and states. To make matters worse, they would tie the Bernalillo County minimum wage to a national cost of living index – a move that would guarantee one of the highest minimum wages in the country.

The results of this purely political policy are fewer entry-level job opportunities, higher teen unemployment, and fewer small businesses. And its effects will only worsen over time thanks to the CPI index provision.

The only real beneficiaries of this policy are politicians who pander to extreme interest groups and larger businesses that have the ability to survive the arbitrarily imposed costs and benefit once their smaller competitors are forced out of business.

Make no mistake, minimum wage laws harm the most vulnerable businesses and wage-earners and Bernalillo County’s minimum wage proposal is no different.

Albuquerque residents are already feeling the effects of their minimum wage ordinance. Restaurants are cutting hours, prices are going up, and workers are losing shifts.

Commissioner Stebbins was correct at our March 12th meeting when she pointed out that having a minimum wage in the city places her all-city district at a disadvantage when competing with the rest of the county. However, you don’t impose the same bad policy countywide in order to correct a bad policy in the city.

The Commission should take a step back and assess the impact of the minimum wage in Albuquerque and potential effects to businesses in Bernalillo County. To that end, I proposed conducting a business survey that would have helped the county determine the impact of the minimum wage on the 1,400 businesses in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County.

Of course, that common sense approach was shot down by the three Commission proponents of the minimum wage who simply do not want to know how harmful their policy is to small businesses and to workers.

The Bernalillo County minimum wage proposal is the worst kind of political policy. It appeals to human kindness but it’s a regressive policy that makes the most vulnerable pay with their hours, their jobs, and their opportunities.

On April 23rd, the Bernalillo County Commission has a choice – it can support small businesses and workers, or it can force small businesses to raise prices, reduce employee hours, and lay off workers. You can be sure that I will be standing with small businesses and their workers.

Stop the Minimum Wage Increase in Bernalillo County!

I was pleased to be the first signatory of a petition to stop the ill-advised minimum wage movement here in New Mexico. If you’re a teenager or entry level worker, a minimum wage increase sounds good until you try to find that first job. It sounds good until your favorite “mom and pop” restaurant either reduces hours or shuts down all together. And it sounds good until you realize that a minimum wage ordinance wipes out the little guys while taking your choices away and making big businesses more dominate. And if that weren’t enough, you get to pay for it with higher prices for the things you least want to do without.

If you want to help small businesses and protect opportunities for entry level employees, sign the petition below!

Minimum Wage

Like many “good deeds” that government gets involved with, the minimum wage that’s supposed to help low wage earners ends up hurting them instead. On Sunday, Celina Westervelt of News 13 (read it here) ran a pretty good story on the effects of the City of Albuquerque’s new Minimum Wage ordinance. Looks like an extra buck an hour will end up costing all of us a lot more than supporters want to tell you.

The County Commission will be taking up the issue at its January 22nd meeting. I’ve provided a draft copy of the legislation here. Like the city’s version, it includes an ill-advised provision to give every minimum wage employee a raise annually.