Denver Passes Local Minimum Wage Ordinance

In May 2019, the state of Colorado passed a law allowing a limited number of local minimum wage increases beginning in 2020. On Monday, November 25, 2019, the Denver City Council made Denver the first Colorado city to adopt its own minimum wage. The Denver ordinance sets the hourly city-wide minimum wage at $12.85 starting Jan. 1, 2020. One year later, on January 1, 2021, it will increase to $14.77 an hour, and then again on Jan. 1, 2022, to $15.87. After that, the minimum wage will increase each year based on the regional consumer price index.

The separate minimum wage for city contractors and the prevailing wage rate will still apply and is not the same as the city-wide minimum wage. The prevailing wage varies by type of work and mainly applies to construction work done on any City of Denver property or using funding from the city. Prevailing wages in the City and County of Denver are enforced under one agency known as “Denver Labor” in the Auditor’s Office.

Looking at the Denver employer reported data in Employers Council’s 2019 Benchmark Compensation Survey, the average of all reported rates below the 2020 minimum rate of $12.85 is $12.16. When you average all rates between $12.86 and $14.77, the average hourly is $13.86. Finally, when you average all rates between $14.78 and $15.87, the average hourly is $15.31. Clearly, there will be an impact on employers and employees with the passage of this ordinance.