Report: Minimum Wage Is Not Enough

    While voters opted to raise the Colorado minimum wage in 2006, the new wage still isn’t nearly enough for a single individual to be economically independent in the state, according to a new study.The current minimum wage in Colorado is $7.02, but it is not enough for an individual to be self-sufficient in any county in the state, according to a report (PDF) released by the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, an economic think tank that works to assist low-income individuals and families.

    On Wednesday, the institute released a lengthy study reporting what it takes to make it in each Colorado county when necessities like housing, food, and health care are added into the equation.

    Assuming an individual only works one job full time at the state’s minimum wage, it is impossible to be self-sustaining in any county, meaning that public and private assistance is not utilized.

    In 2006, Colorado voters passed Amendment 42 by 53 percent, increasing the state minimum wage to $6.85 per hour, adjusting the number for inflation in later years. The federal minimum wage lags behind at $5.85 per hour.

    Along with the report, the Institute also released a self-sufficiency calculator so Colorado Web users can measure their own cost of living.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at