Recently, a coalition of business owners, workers and supporters with Colorado Families for a Fair Wage delivered boxes containing petitions with 200,000 signatures to place a ballot initiative that will raise the Colorado minimum wage to $12 by 2020 on the November ballot. The 200,000 signatures is more than double the 98,492 signatures needed to qualify, showing overwhelming support for the measure.
“It’s clear our measure to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 will be on the November ballot,” said Patty Kupfer, Colorado Families for a Fair Wage campaign manager “Raising the minimum wage is fair and smart. It’s fair because people working full time should earn enough to support their families. It’s smart because when working people have more money in their pockets, they spend it here in Colorado, boosting our economy and helping our communities thrive.”
The average age of a minimum wage earner is 35 – and more than 86 percent of minimum wage earners are over the age of 20. A full-time minimum wage worker takes home less than $300/week, not nearly enough to afford food, rent and other basic needs. In Colorado, a minimum wage worker needs to work 80 hours per week to afford a basic two bedroom apartment.
“Even though I work full-time as a nursing assistant, I can’t afford to support us without public assistance,” said Marrisa Guerrero, a mom raising a school-age daughter. “We have no choice but to rely on subsidized housing, can’t afford health insurance and we even struggle to buy enough food for us to eat. I always thought if I worked hard and played by the rules, I’d be able to make it, but that isn’t going to happen until wages are raised.”
Extensive research shows that modestly 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, potentially leading to further job growth.
“Gradually increasing Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020 is the right thing for businesses, said Yoav Lurie, CEO and Founder of Simple Energy. “Higher wages drive better results, give customers more money to spend in our businesses, and create a better business climate. That’s why the majority of business leaders support raising the minimum wage.”
Colorado Families for a Fair Wage is a coalition of small business owners, community partners, working families, and faith organizations working together to help build a fair economy for all Coloradans.