The Minimum Wage
The minimum wage establishes a
broad, minimum standard for covered workers.
The Federal Minimum Wage is
currently $7.25 per hour. The minimum
wage benefits working families, especially those which rely on the earnings of
single parents, women, and workers of color. Increases in the minimum
wage are correlated with overall improvement in the wages of low-income
As a result of the passage of
Amendment 23 in 2006, Colorado's minimum wage was increased from $5.85 to $6.25 per hour
in 2007 and indexed to inflation annually. The 2008 Colorado minimum wage
is $7.02 per hour. The law establishes a minimum wage for all workers
covered by the federal minimum wage and several additional categories of
The Living Wage
Because of the erosion of the purchasing power of the minimum wage, communities across the country have sought other tools to ensure that jobs provide an adequate standard of living. A "living wage" is a wage level that allows the earner to afford adequate shelter, food and the other necessities of life.
The actual wage level established in living wage policies across the country vary based on actual costs of living and the political context in which the policies were passed, but all of them are higher than the minimum wage. Policies also vary in the range of workers that are covered. Some policies cover all workers within a geographic boundary (with exceptions for small employers), others cover only workers of private employers who contract with the government entity.
Denver has a narrow living wage policy that covers parking attendants, security guards, child care workers and clerical support workers employed on private contracts with the City and County of Denver. Denver's Living Wage is adjusted annually based on the Federal Poverty Line for family of four, and is currently $10.19 per hour.
A March 2010 San Diego City report shows workers, employers and City benefit from 2005 Living Wage law. The report confirms that the Living Wage Ordinance has worked well for hundreds of local workers and also for employers and city taxpayers.
Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates how much money working adults need
to meet their basic needs without subsidies of any kind. Unlike the
federal poverty standard, the Self-Sufficiency Standard accounts for
the costs of living and working as they vary by family size and
composition and by geographic location, including housing, food, transportation, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and taxes.
The self-sufficiency standard can be used by
workforce development centers counseling workers, community colleges
and high schools advising students, nonprofit organizations and county
departments of human services helping women plan transitions from
welfare to work, in labor union contracts, and in private contracts with public entities to establish wage standards.
, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute
more than forty years of equal opportunity laws, the salaries of Colorado women
still lag about twenty-one percent behind men.