Minimum wage going up Jan. 1 in Colorado

By: Amber Bailliem The Gazette
December 30, 2013 Updated: December 31, 2013 at 9:06 am

A new year means a pay raise of 22 cents an hour for Colorado's minimum-wage workers, with the rate jumping from $4.76 to $4.98 for tipped workers and $7.78 to $8 for all others.

The increase takes effect Wednesday and is expected to impact about 104,000 low-wage workers in the state. But Mountain States Employers Council said it will have minimal impact on businesses.

"According to our survey info, the majority of Colorado employees are making over $8 an hour so the increase won't affect that population," said Lorrie Ray, director of membership development from the Mountain States Employers Council.

"The increase will impact selective fields, such as the restaurant industry and nonprofit organizations," Ray said. "It will benefit low-wage workers in the sense that if they're making more money, they'll be able to spend more money."

The state minimum wage is adjusted annually based on inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Colorado. Ray said she doesn't see 2014's wage increase having a noticeable effect on Colorado's economy.

"Potentially over time, as the minimum wage continues to rise and if it didn't match up with the Consumer Price Index, I could see the increase leading to significant job cuts and having a big impact on the economy," she said.

Eleven other states are also raising minimum wage requirements for 2014, increasing wages for nearly 2.5 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The state's minimum wage increase is tied to a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2006. According to the institute, it will generate over $619 million in new economic activity and support the creation of 4,600 full-time jobs.

As of Jan. 1, 21 states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wage rates above the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

Meredith Klube, business and banquet manager at Jack Quinn's Pub said she sees the pay increase as a positive.

"Everyone appreciates a raise and we're happy for our employees to have it," she said. "We have 45 to 50 employees, and approximately 5 percent make minimum wage; others have a tipped wage."

Klube said although the increase will affect the restaurant's budget, she understands the need for it. She said restaurant is adjusting its budget and doesn't anticipate changes to menu prices.

"We want to be supportive with this pay increase," she said. "We want to continue to keep our employees happy."

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