Voters raise minimum wages

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Voters in several cities approved ballot measures on raising the minimum wage.

In other election news, low-paid workers will get raises due to ballot initiatives in three cities.

In Albuquerque, the minimum wage will rise from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour, starting in January, with automatic cost-of-living increases, a move that may affect 40,000 or one-seventh of the city's workers, said the National Employment Law Project, citing a New Mexican study.

San Jose workers will receive $10 an hour, up from California's $8 an hour minimum wage, again with an automatic cost of living increase built in. NELP cites a University of California study that says that 69,000 workers, or 18 percent of the workforce, will benefit.

In Long Beach, the raise applies only to hotel workers, moving them to $13 an hour and guaranteeing them five days of sick pay a year.

In each case, NELP estimates an economic boost leading to more hiring, as the minimum wage workers now have more spending power. 

“With growing numbers of working families relying on low-wage jobs to make ends meet, the voters recognize that raising the minimum wage fulfills our basic obligation to ensure that work provides a path out of poverty. Higher wages for the lowest-paid workers in our economy will promote upward economic mobility and help accelerate the post-recession recovery,” executive director Christine Owens said in a statement.

There are many other groups, obviously, that argue the opposite -- saying that raises will discourage employers from adding staff.  

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