In the midst of a growing debate over the national minimum wage, Mexico City’s mayor has proposed increasing the country’s daily minimum wage — by the equivalent of one dollar.
Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera announced the city will propose raising the minimum wage from the current amount of 67.29 (about $5) to 80 pesos ($6) per day.
While it may not sound like much, the change would amount to about a 20 percent increase in Mexico’s daily minimum wage, which is the lowest in Latin America, adjusted for cost of living. Still, the new amount could buy roughly one meal in an average fast-food restaurant — hardly enough to live on.
The Mexican government has faced harsh criticism since it was announced during an economic forum last week that Mexico was the only country in Latin America with a minimum wage below the poverty line. Economists and representatives of civil society have lambasted the federal government for failing to maintain a living wage for workers, even as Mexico’s economy has boomed and prices of goods have soared.
The value of the daily minimum wage is comparable to that of nations like Honduras or Nicaragua, Central America’s poorest countries — but higher prices due to gradual inflation makes Mexico’s minimum wage worth much less. The country has not increased the minimum wage since the 1980s.
Federal officials have expressed concern that such a measure will cause inflation, but Mancera said the initiative will be introduced gradually to avoid price spikes. He cautioned that the proposal was only in its initial stages, but promised his office would present a more complete plan by the end of August.
Experts say about 6.5 million workers in Mexico, or about 13 percent of the workforce, currently earn the minimum wage.
Additional reporting by Associated Press