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ENMU-Roswell increases minimum employee pay

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Shawn Powell, president of ENMU-Roswell, says the school intends to evaluate the pay for all positions in the coming months to ensure that all employees are compensated appropriately. He is seen in this photo during a March 2020 Community College Board meeting. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell will pay all of its employees at least $15 an hour starting next month.

Shawn Powell, ENMU-Roswell president, said that the college leadership has decided to raise the pay for 25 employees earning less than $15 an hour so that they will earn that hourly rate by Oct. 8.

The additional cost to the school for the current fiscal year will be about $155,000, with the actual budget adjustment to financial accounts to occur in December.

The college has about 200 full-time staff and faculty, Powell said.

He explained that the Board of Regents, which has authority over the ENMU system, decided about five months ago that the Portales university needed to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, effective July 1.

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“We are following that due process or that system approach to make sure that we are paying people for their work in an appropriate manner,” Powell said.

Powell said that the college now plans to do an analysis of its pay for all positions compared to community colleges and similar higher education institutions in the state to ensure that compensation for all positions is appropriate. Pay evaluations are expected to be finished by December, he said.

Powell said that part of the reasoning behind the campus minimum wage boost is to help in its employee recruitment and retention efforts.

He noted that the campus has had about 30 open positions across all school functions for a while now and that the pay increase might incentivize people to apply.

Powell also explained that the state minimum wage law changed a couple of years ago.

Senate Bill 437 signed in April 2019 and effective January 2020 implemented the state’s first minimum wage increase since 2009. In January 2020, the minimum wage for most hourly positions rose to $9 from $7.50. In January 2021, it increased to $10.50. The minimum wage is due to increase again to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2022, and to $12 an hour on Jan. 1, 2023.

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report for the first quarter of 2021, or January to March, found that the average weekly gross wage for all types of positions in Chaves County was $747, which would equal about $18.68 an hour for a 40-hour work week.

Powell also indicated that the question of college faculty compensation is being considered by state senators and legislators.

During a Tuesday meeting of the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Legislative Finance Committee, representatives from New Mexico State University and New Mexico Highlands University, as well as the two-year colleges of San Juan College and Luna Community College, presented information about their faculty pay compared to similar institutions, arguing that New Mexico pays less than many other states.

The San Juan College report indicated that its average nine-month faculty pay of $55,172 in 2021 is slightly above the state average of $54,758 but lower than the average pay in most neighboring states. The report by Luna Community College put the average faculty instructor pay at New Mexico two-year institutions at $56,048, compared to a $74,547 national average for two-year colleges.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.