DENVER -- Should Colorado raise the state's minimum wage to $12 an hour?
That's one of the questions you'll vote on when you get your mail-in November ballot sometime after Oct. 17.
Amendment 70 asks voters if Colorado's minimum wage should be increased in the following way:
- 2016 - $8.31
- 2017 - $9.30
- 2018 - $10.20
- 2019 - $11.10
- 2020 - $12.00
The minimum wage for tipped workers is reduced by $3.02:
- 2016 - $5.29
- 2017 - $6.28
- 2018 - $7.18
- 2019 - $8.08
- 2020 - $8.98
Voting no on Amendment 70 means you don't approve this change to the minimum wage. However, the equation that currently increases the minimum wage based on inflation will remain, meaning the minimum wage will continue to increase, just not as fast or as quickly.
The opposition to Amendment 70 is called, "Keep Colorado Working." In some of the group's political advertisements, there is a claim that this is a 44 percent increase.
While that's accurate when you compare $8.31 to $12, it's not fully accurate because the minimum wage will continue to rise even if Amendment 70 fails.
A recent state economic forecast projects the 2020 minimum wage around $9.18. The difference between $9.18 and $12 is 30 percent, not 44 percent.
Political ads against the minimum wage also claim there will be job loss and an added cost to business.
The group in support of the higher minimum wage, "Colorado Families for a Fair Wage," cites a report by The Women's Foundation of Colorado and the University of Denver that found a $12 minimum wage could benefit job growth.
“Contrary to other reports, our research shows that the proposed increase to the Colorado minimum wage will increase consumer spending, thereby strengthening the economy and likely driving job growth, not job loss," said Jack Strauss, Chair of Applied Economics at DU.
Keep Colorado Working cites a study commissioned by the conservative "Common Sense Policy Roundtable" that found the higher minimum wage would cost as many as 90,000 jobs.
The last major increase of Colorado's minimum wage was when voters approved Amendment 42 in 2006. The wage hike took effect on Jan. 1, 2007 and increased from $5.15 to $6.85. Since then, the minimum wage has gone up with inflation, except in 2010, when it dropped four cents.
Denver7 did some digging through Colorado employment statistics in comparison to the state's minimum wage. We found that wait staff employment dropped slightly in 2007 and 2008 and then dropped through the recession before climbing again in 2011. Bartender employment dropped in 2007, the year of the new minimum wage increase, but climbed 1,000 jobs over the next two years. It also dropped during the recession, but has since rebounded. Overall restaurant jobs climbed through 2007, dropped through the recession and have climbed back since.
Overall job growth followed the same pattern, continuing to climb after the 2007 minimum wage increase, and then dropping through the recession before rebounding over the last five years.
Denver7 also searched through the campaign contributions for both Colorado Families for a Fair Wage and Keep Colorado Working.
Here is the amount of money both issue committees have received in contributions as of the last September 19 filing deadline.
Colorado Families for a Fair Wage (For Amendment 70):
- $2,344,247.39: Total
- $336,632.07: In-state contributions (9%)
- $2,131,938.39: Out-of-state contributions (91%)
Keep Colorado Working (Against Amendment 70):
- $636,874.99: Total
- $372,874.99: In-state contributions (59%)
- $264,000: Out-of-state contributions (41%)
The following are some of the out-of-state contributions to Colorado Families for a Fair Wage:
- Civic Participation Action Fund, New York City: $500,000
- National Education Association, Washington, D.C.: $430,000
- Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund: $350,000
- SEIU (Services Employees International Union), Washington, D.C.: $200,000
The following are some of the out-of-state contributions to Keep Colorado Working:
- Workforce Fairness Institute, Alexandria, VA: $250,000
- Firehouse Subs CEO, Jacksonville, FL: $10,000