According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the New Mexico minimum wage increased $1.00 an hour on January 1, 2009, from $6.50 an hour to $7.50 an hour. Minimum wage for overtime for most employees will be $11.25 an hour.
The New Mexico law has its share of exceptions. For example, seasonal employees in some counties are not under the protection of the minimum wage laws, nor are employees of cotton gins. Typically, both the overtime and the minimum wage laws are not applicable to genuine executives, administrators, professionals, supervisors, and superintendents.
Any employer who has not updated his or her New Mexico minimum wage poster should do so now.
Certain workers who are hired to perform investigative work for the federal government are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, otherwise known as the FLSA. State law exempts them from the overtime law, which requires that employees working more than 40 hours a week must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate for their overtime. Nevertheless, they are still entitled to the federal minimum wage, at the least.
The minimum wage in New Mexico, incidentally, does not cover those workers under 18 who have not graduated from high school. It is a seldom-utilized and little-known aspect of New Mexico labor law.
Under the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act, employers can pay just $2.13 per hour to employees who regularly and customarily receive tips of more than $30 per month. However, for any pay period in which the employee does not average $5.37 per hour in tips, the employer must make up the difference in wages.
Like many states, the New Mexico minimum wage includes myriad exceptions, including exceptions for employees in domestic service in or about a private home, for federal employees, and for agricultural employees. Volunteers for educational, charitable, religious or nonprofit organizations are exempt from the New Mexico minimum wage laws. So are students working after school or on vacation.
Two New Mexico community colleges were recently awarded nearly $2.5 million to train workers, under a federal training grant program. The schools competed successfully against 341 other national programs for the grant funds, awarded by the U. S. Department of Labor.
Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces was awarded a highly coveted grant to train workers for the healthcare industry, in the amount of $1,988,074.
Community colleges across the nation recently received $125 million in awards under the President’s Community Based Job Training Grants Initiative.
Over 341 applications were filed in a competition announced in August, 2007. The awards were given to the top 69 competitors to help community colleges and training facilities provide assistance for workers seeking jobs in high-growth industries.
U.S Department of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao made the following comment, “Community colleges are in a unique position to prepare local workers for careers in high-growth industries. The $125 million awarded today will expand enrollment in education and training programs and provide more workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
Community colleges provide a local boost for training in areas where certain industries are seeking certain skill sets. The Community-Based Job Training Grants provide training for skilled workers to gain good jobs with career advancement. For example, several nuclear power plants in New Mexico need more skilled employees. A grant to train workers in the energy field could be awarded to a community college located near the plants.
The Community-Based Job Training Grants program was established in 2005, awarding 72 grants. In 2006, the second round of grants totaled 70. The purpose of these grants is to boost the community colleges’ role in marketing the full potential of the U. S. workforce.
Over the past few years, several factors have influenced the condition of the American workforce, including technology and innovation, aging of the workforce and globalization.
As a result, certain industries are having trouble finding trained workers. Health care, construction, biotechnology and energy are examples of a few nationwide industries seeking skilled employees. Several regional employers require skilled workers, too, such as the movie industry in Culver City, California.
The U. S. Department of Labor has formed strong relationships with business and industry. These relationships are valued by the Labor Department, because officials believe these connections provide support for regional economies by putting Americans to work.
To help put Americans to work the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative encourages these relationships and adds partnerships with educators as well. As part of that partnership, the Community Based Job Training Grants assist employers in finding trained employees.
The Community Based Job Training Grants are geared to improve the training capability of community colleges in areas that need workers. Funds are awarded to buy new training equipment, to hire qualified teachers and to organize on-the-job training experiences. These colleges collaborate with the local industry, too, to develop a training program for new and existing workers. The goal is to provide employees with good paying jobs with career advancement.
The industries that participate in the Workforce Investment System benefit in several ways. Since the local college is training workers with skills specific to that industry, the employer spends less on recruiting. The screening and referral process aid the employer as well, because the school’s curriculum is geared to his or her needs. As a result, employees stay with the company longer and the company gets qualified workers that increase quality and competitiveness in the market place.
In addition, the Workforce Investment System offers several incentives within the programs, such as government training assistance and tax credits.
The New Mexico state minimum wage has increased twice since July, 2007. The first increase occurred when the federal minimum wage rose on July 24, 2007. The second increase went into effect on January1, 2008. The minimum rose first from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, then from $5.85 to $6.50, a whopping jump of $1.35 per hour, the biggest single increase in the country.
Other states bumped their minimum wage rates in the last few months of 2007. Nevada increased its minimum wage to $6.33 per hour. New Hampshire’s minimum was upped to $6.50 per hour, and Maine’s minimum hit $7.00 per hour.
January 1, 2008 saw other states increase their minimum wage rates along with New Mexico. Delaware, Oregon, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, California, Washington and Vermont all enacted cost-of-living increases to their minimum wage as of the New Year.
Of these states, Florida’s state minimum is the lowest at $6.79 per hour. California and Massachusetts both increased their state minimums to $8.00 per hour. Washington’s bump gave its state minimum wage the honor of highest in the United States at $8.07 per hour.
Under the New Mexico minimum wage statute, tipped workers still have one of the lowest rates in the country at $2.12 per hour. Under federal law the rate for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. Other state minimum wages for tipped workers cover a very broad range, from $2.23 per hour to $8.07 per hour.
New Mexico’s state minimum wage applies to workers under the age of 18 who are in training or haven’t graduated from high school. Employers are not allowed to pay them a lower wage.
In addition, this New Mexico statute mandates that when a worker is fired, the employer must pay that worker’s final wages within 5 days. Employees on commission or who do piece work must receive their final check within ten days of termination. For a worker who quits, however, the employer can pay that worker’s final wages on the next regularly scheduled pay day.
New Mexico is not the only state with a change to the minimum wage. Vermont, and Missouri are among the fourteen states to raise its state minimum wage as of January 1, 2008. The increases in these fourteen states, however, are just the beginning of a year full of changes.
There are more minimum wage changes on the horizon, as well. On the 1st of July, 2008, West Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Pennsylvania will enact raises to their state minimum wages, too. Michigan and Illinois will each up its minimum by 25 cents per hour. Illinois’s rate will go from $7.50 to $7.75 and Michigan’s new rate will be $7.40 per hour.
Pennsylvania workers will receive a raise of 90 cents per hour to $7.15 per hour. West Virginia will add 70 cents to its minimum wage rate resulting in a raise from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour. Kentucky’s minimum will change from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour, which is a foreshadowing of the change in the federal minimum which will occur later in July of 2008.
On May 24, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 into law. This law established a three-step system to raise the federal minimum wage.
On July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage rate will increase from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour.
On January 1, 2008 the New Mexico state minimum wage will increase by 65 cents from $5.85 per hour to $6.50 per hour. This is the second increase in less than 6 months for minimum wage workers in New Mexico. The state minimum wage increases with the federal rate, so on July 24, 2007 the rate went from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour.
That’s a total increase of $1.35 per hour since July for the state’s minimum wage workers.
The state wage for tipped employees remains just $2.125 per hour – one of the lowest rates in the nation. The federal rate for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour, while other states require tipped employees to be paid anywhere from $2.23 to $8.07 per hour.
New Mexico law does permit workers under the age of 18 who are training, or who have not graduated from high school, to be paid less than the state minimum wage.
Under the same statute, most employees who are fired must receive their final wages within 5 days. If an employee does piece work or works on commission, the employer has 10 days after termination to pay him or her. However, workers who resign can be paid on the next regular payday.
Within the past few months, three states have increased their minimum wages. New Hampshire’s minimum wage went to $6.50 per hour, while the Nevada minimum wage rose to $6.33. Maine’s minimum wage was also increased, to $7.00 per hour.
New Mexico is just the most recent in a series of states that have announced minimum wage hikes in 2008. Other states that will introduce cost-of-living increases to the minimum wage in January include Delaware, Oregon, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, California, Washington, and Vermont. Florida’s increase will result in the lowest rate at $6.79 per hour, while both Massachusetts and California will increase the state rate to $8.00. Washington’s increase to $8.07 will result in the highest minimum wage in the nation for 2008.
While the minimum wage may increase, overtime laws in many states remain the same. Federal law states that any employee who works more than 40 hours a week is entitled to overtime pay. The rate of pay is usually 1.5 times the hourly rate and is referred to as “time-and-a-half” or “overtime.” Most workers in the country are covered under federal law, plus several states have overtime laws.
Michigan, Massachusetts, Nebraska and several other states simply copy the federal requirement in that more than 40 hours a week qualifies a worker to receive overtime pay. In Kansas, the magic number for earning overtime is 46 hours a week, and Minnesota law demands overtime for weekly hours greater than 48.
For every company with four or more workers, Nebraska applies the both the federal minimum wage law and the federal overtime law.
Colorado workers receive overtime after 12 hours per day, or 40 hours a week. Restaurant and hotel employers in Connecticut must pay overtime to any employee who works seven days in a row. Workers in other fields do not earn overtime on the seventh day. Employees in Kentucky earn overtime pay more than 40 hours. These employees also earn overtime for seventh consecutive day of work, no matter how many hours they worked on the other six.
As is illustrated, state overtime laws vary widely across the country. State laws regarding minimum wage for employees who earn tips vary nationwide, too.
The federal minimum wage rate for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. Several states, including Nebraska and Indiana, follow the federal rate of $2.13. Wisconsin, Massachusetts and North Carolina offer higher rates of $2.33, $2.63 and $2.43, respectively.
Kansas, at $1.59 per hour, has the lowest minimum wage for tipped workers.
Not all states allow for tips when calculating rates for minimum wage. Hawaii assumes a tip rate of 25 cents per hour, so employers legally have to pay only $7.00, instead of the state minimum of $7.25. Washington doesn’t allow or tips at all. Companies must pay tipped employees that same as non-tipped employees, which January 1, 2008 will be $8.07.