Starting today the federal minimum wage will be increased from $5.85 to $6.55, but it won’t matter in Colorado.
A recent provision in Colorado’s constitution already requires workers to be paid a minimum wage of $7.02, a rate that is adjusted each year based on inflation rates.
Voters in the state passed Amendment 42, a constitutional measure raising the minimum wage, in 2006.
On the federal level, Congress passed a 2007 law increasing the national minimum wage through a three-part process: $.5.85 in 2007, $6.55 in 2008, and $7.25 in 2009. Before that the minimum wage was at a stagnant $5.15, having not been increased in nearly a decade.
The raise in wages comes at a time when the federal labor department is taking serous flack for not enforcing wage laws and instead focusing on efforts against labor unions under the Bush administration.
Colorado’s minimum wage in 2009 has not been determined yet, so there’s no telling if the federal rate will be greater than the state rate at that time. Legally, employers have to follow both regulations and pay the highest wage.
As it stands, the $7.02 wage in Colorado isn’t enough to be self-sufficient anywhere in the state, according to a recent study released in 2008, where self-sufficiency is defined as being able to afford housing, food and health care without the aid of government services.