Colorado Sun: New Year, new minimum wage: Colorado’s hourly rate jumps to $12.32 an hour

By Thy Vo
Colorado Sun, Jan 1, 2021

A new minimum wage increase will take effect in Colorado on New Year’s Day, bringing wages to $12.32 an hour, or $9.30 for tipped workers. The 2.7% statewide increase is based on language in the Colorado Constitution, which mandates annual inflation adjustments based on the consumer price index. Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 enshrining the annual wage increase in the state’s governing document. ...

The city of Denver passed a bill in 2019 to increase the minimum wage beyond the state baseline, which sets the new hourly rate for 2021 at $14.77. ...

Pete Turner, who owns the restaurant chain Illegal Pete’s and advocated for the constitutional amendment in 2016, said while the increase comes at a bad and uncertain time for businesses, the pandemic has only underscored its necessity. 

“It’s not an ideal time to take on more costs,” Turner said. “But I think the pandemic has really highlighted the disparity between working-class people and people who have money and means, and it’s really just widening that gap. Folks just don’t have the money to live.” ...

Illegal Pete’s locations closed for the early months of the pandemic, reopening in July, and like many restaurants have seen less business, especially at locations that previously got a lot of traffic from college students and visitors to sporting events, Turner said. 

The chain has paid its workers above minimum wage since 2015 — and currently, including tips, workers average about $21 an hour, Turner said. ...

“People [during the pandemic] have been willing to pay more for delivery, so … they need to realize the value around what restaurants provide, and that should translate into folks being able to get a living wage,” Turner said. ...

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