Colorado Cuts Its Minimum Wage. Do Employers Really Need Four More Cents Per Hour?

WASHINGTON - JULY 24:  U.S. Sen. Edward Kenned...
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Colorado will become the first state to reduce its minimum wage because of a falling cost of living. It’s likely to take effect in January 2010.

The state Department of Labor and Employment ordered the wage down to $7.24 from $7.28. That’s lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, so most minimum wage workers would lose only 3 cents an hour.

Colorado is one of 10 states where the minimum wage is tied to inflation. The indexing is thought to protect low-wage workers from having flat wages as the cost of living goes up.

But because Colorado’s provision allows wage declines, the minimum wage will drop because of a falling consumer price index. It will be the first decrease in any state since the federal minimum wage law was passed in 1938.

It reminds me of the 1954 Broadway musical, “Pajama Game”, that became a 1957 film, about a labor dispute in a pajama factory:

Seven and a half cents doesn’t buy a hell of a lot,
Seven and a half cents doesn’t mean a thing!
But give it to me every hour,
Forty hours every week,
And that’s enough for me to be living like a king!

Taking pennies out of the pockets of the lowest-paid workers on the wage scale just seems petty and nasty to me.

Or am I missing something here?

2 thoughts on “Colorado Cuts Its Minimum Wage. Do Employers Really Need Four More Cents Per Hour?

  1. LeeAnn Maton

    As a native Coloradoan (although I think I was still too young to vote when the 2006 amendment was passed regarding minimum wage), I can tell there in fact is a larger problem that your post touched on here: namely that when we pass laws in the Centennial State, we tend to often make them amendments to the state constitution, instead of normal laws. As a result, they’re a lot more inflexible and difficult to change as society changes, which is obviously the case here. Colorado’s TABOR law is another prime example–so many people wish we could make it go away, but since it was passed as an amendment to the state constitution, it’s just not that easy.

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