Minimum Wage Increase Campaign Kicks Off

Photo courtesy Michael Carrigan.

Photo courtesy Michael Carrigan.

A press release from Colorado Families for a Fair Wage kicks off a statewide ballot initiative campaign to raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020:

“The problem facing families and our economy is the same thing – low wages,” said Lizeth Chacon, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage co-chair. “Raising the minimum wage is fair and smart – fair because people working full time should earn enough to support their families without being forced to rely on public assistance, and smart because people with money in their pockets to spend boosts the local economy and creates jobs.”

The average age of a minimum wage earner is 35 – and more than 84% of minimum wage earners are over the age of 20. A full-time minimum wage worker takes home less than $300/week – well below federal poverty level for a family of three – not enough to afford food, rent and other basic needs. In Colorado, a minimum wage worker needs to work 80 hours/week to afford a basic 2 bedroom apartment. “I’m working hard but still living in poverty – I am one paycheck away from being homeless and I literally have to balance every dime to make sure I eat every day, said Marilyn Sorenson, a home healthcare worker who has cared for high-needs disabled and elderly clients for more than 20 years. “The truth is that the cost of everything has gone up over the years but my paycheck hasn’t kept up. People like me who work hard should be able to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table but more and more of us can’t afford even the basics.”

Extensive research shows raising the minimum wage helps the economy by increasing consumer spending – and does not result in job loss in sectors most likely to hire minimum wage workers. Because low and middle-income workers are more likely to spend pay increases than higher paid workers, each $1/hour wage increase creates a ripple effect in spending, generating $1.20 in the local economy and leading to further job growth.

“I believe we have a moral imperative to pay our employees a fair wage they can actually live on. This philosophy has been good for my business by helping me keep great staff. We have the lowest turnover in the region” said Kevin J. Daly, owner of Vine Street Pub & Brewery and four other Colorado Brewpubs. “How does someone make ends meet on the current Colorado minimum wage? It’s just not right.”

As we noted previously, the $12 an hour by 2020 campaign may not be the only such minimum wage increase initiative on the 2016 ballot, with Republican Scott Gessler helping the Colorado Restaurant Association push a much smaller minimum wage increase. There seems to consensus that some increase will likely pass with voters who have been hearing the “Fight for 15” campaign’s message for several years now. Business interests would prefer to forestall this more progressive measure in favor of something more modest to appease voters–naturally, with the smallest possible concession.

So make sure to tell your friends which one is the better deal.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    This will kill thousands of jobs. What good will it be to minimum wage workers then?

    • Davie says:

      That's right!  Why just kill a few thousand jobs when we could follow quack GOP economic theory and kill Millions like we've done during the last 3 GOP administrations?

      Pikers!  Walmart needs more slaves subsidized by welfare tax dollars!

    • mamajama55 says:

      Just like Portland, Maine lost 1000s of jobs when they raised their minimum wage to $10…..Oh, wait…Portland now has only 3% unemployment, and their housing market is booming. How did that happen?

      And a year after Seattle raised its wage to $15, most employers have not laid off any workers. And even though they expected to raise prices on goods and services, there has been "little or no evidence" of price increases.

      Reality does have a liberal bias. Poor Modster.

      • Davie says:

        Henry Ford realized a hundred years ago that if you pay your people a living wage, they'll spend it on more goods, increasing wealth for all.

        Imagine 5 people sitting at a table.  One person holds a dollar and buys something from the person on the right. The next person takes the newly received dollar and buys goods from the person to their right, and so on.  One dollar creates $5 of economic activity with a single pass around the table.  The virtuous circle can continue as long as more goods are produced available for sale!

        • BlueCat says:

          He may have been an anti-Semitic (when I was kid self respecting Jews still didn't buy Fords or VWs, of course) anti-union asshole but he was totally right about paying your workers enough and producing enough affordabe product that your workers can also afford to be a nice chunk of your market. Win/win. 

      • BlueCat says:

        Conservative economic theory is faith based  as none of it has ever been supported by real world evidence. It's religion, not science. Who cares if the golden age of union won high wages was the golden age of both the American middle class and the most vibrant economy the world  had ever seen? Who cares it's been downhill since the "Reagan Democrats" bought the swill slick Ronnie was selling  in that enticing racist, blame the Welfare Queens gift wrap? 

        You can't argue with religious fervor. You just have to hope the fanatic believers fade and the ranks of the sensible who believe the decades worth of data they can actually see with their own eyes grow.  

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Don't forget those rednecks to the east and north of us…carryin' on and destroyin' the Cornhusker economy with a minimum wage hike.  

  2. Pseudonymous says:

    Not sure why* the site linked to shows the ballot title and submission paperwork and not the text of the initiative as it states, but here it is.

    SECTION 1.  In the constitution of the state of Colorado. amend section 15 of article XVIII as follows:

    Section 15. State minimum wage rate.  Effective January 1, 2017, Colorado's minimum wage shall be IS increased to $6.85 $9.30 per hour and shall be IS adjusted INCREASED annually BY $0.90 EACH JANUARY 1 UNTIL IT REACHES $12 PER HOUR EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2020, AND THEREAFTER IS ADJUSTED ANNUALLY for inflation COST OF LIVING INCREASES, as measured by the Consumer Price Index used for Colorado.  This minimum wage shall be paid to employees who receive the state or federal minimum wage. No more than $3.02 per hour in tip income may be used to offset the minimum wage of employees who regularly receive tips.

    *Well, maybe it’s because nothing has been done about the $3 tip exemption from the wage, but it's the thought that counts!

  3. Voyageur says:

    I think a $12 wage has little risk of serious job loss.   minimum wage workers have a higher "marginal propensity to consume" than highly paid ones.   In English, that means they spend all they have to survive.  Thus a hike in minimum wage should have a multiplier effect and create as many or more new jobs as it costs.  There is a limit and I couldn't support $15 — there is no research on the effect of more than doubling it.  But we can Pass $12 and when we get there, phase in $15 over the next three years.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      5 Facts About the Minimum Wage

      Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968 at $8.54 (in 2014 dollars). Since it was last raised in 2009, to the current $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum has lost about 8.1% of its purchasing power to inflation. The Economist recently estimated that, given how rich the U.S. is and the pattern among other advanced economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “one would expect America…to pay a minimum wage around $12 an hour.”


      • notaskinnycook says:

        We were doing okay with the minimum up until 1981. The 12 loonngg years between '81 and '93, when minimum workers toiled for $3.35 (server's wage $2.01) put us behind and we never have caught up.

  4. DavidThi808 says:

    We pay interns (students at C.U.) at my company $15.00/hr and that's about to go up. So $12.00/hr is low.

  5. mamajama55 says:

    Tea Party politicians who don't support minimum wage increases are rapidly becoming "former" elected politicians. Some Colorado examples: George Rivera, Bob Beauprez,

    Here's a useful chart from the UNC mirror about what a "self sufficiency wage" is  in Weld County. I've spent a couple of years recently living as a substitute teacher. Those of you with school age kids or grandkids should know that your child's "sub" is making about $11 an hour. Not a whole lot for someone who is responsible for 25 or more young lives and minds.

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