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.