September 12, 2018

Report: NM lags in wage growth

New Mexico is still behind almost every other state when it comes to wage growth since the Great Recession—and it’s even lower than last year, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The organization studied wage growth by state from the beginning of the recession in the last part of 2007 to the latest available data, the beginning of 2018. In that time, New Mexico saw an annual growth of just 0.9 percent in wages, compared to the national average of 1.6 percent growth. Only seven states had lower wage growth over that period.

In 2016, New Mexico’s was even lower, at just 0.1 percent wage growth compared to the national average of 1.7 percent. Only five states ranked lower that New Mexico that year.

State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, is the chair of the House Labor and Economic Development Committee. He told NM Political Report that the lack of significant wage increases in the state is serious.

“The problem is, from the reports that I’ve read, wage growth really happened at the very, very top-end,” McCamley said. “So people that are kind of making their money off of investments, the people in the top one to ten percent really saw more wage increases.”

McCamley said one way to help this is to raise the minimum wage, something Democrats in the Legislature have tried for years, but have seen efforts stymied by Gov. Susana Martinez and, at times, Republicans in the Legislature.

“We’re seeing places like Arizona and Colorado raise the minimum wage and their economies are doing much better than ours. So any kind of argument that people have that it hurts the minimum wage is just not backed up by any kind of facts from our surrounding states.”

In addition, McCamley said that the state should invest in broadband infrastructure and the type of education needed for “21st century jobs” like medical technicians, doctors and engineers.

“We have to invest in ourselves,” McCamley said. “This strategy of making millionaires richer in the hopes that the scraps will fall down is a failure.”

The Martinez administration did not respond to requests for comment on the wage growth report.

Pew used data from the the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ tables for State Quarterly Personal Income and State Annual Personal Income and adjusted the dollar amounts for inflation. The data includes not just wages and salaries, but also benefits like health care and retirement contributions, income from owning businesses or renting out property and public wage assistance programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The data does not include capital gains or losses.