Vote yes: Colorado minimum wage increase a necessity for better quality of life

September 19, 2016

Dillon Taunton

dtaunton@uccs.edu

 

For an hour of their work and time, the most anyone can make at minimum wage in Colorado is $8.31.

Being able to afford my rent and tuition would require me to work 58 hours a week at this rate. This figure excludes luxuries such as electricity, water, transportation and food.

The Colorado minimum wage in its current state is unviable, and must be changed.

A petition with over 200,000 signatures made it so that an initiative on the November ballot will gradually increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 by January 2020.

Dominick Moreno, Colorado state representative, said that his bill to raise minimum wage to $12.50 had a lack of support among fellow legislators in 2015, who expressed concern about why this increase would be damaging.

We should look at these ideas as a community so that we can make an informed choice about how practical a minimum wage increase really is.

One argument is that high school kids are the only Coloradans would benefit from this increase.

But the United States Division of Labor estimated that 89 percent of people who would benefit from this increase are over the age of 20. These are all people who are presumably trying to make a living but are held back by the curse of minimum wage.

Opponents of an increase also argue that increasing the minimum wage will eliminate small business opportunity. But 60 percent of small business owners supported a gradual increase in minimum wage, according to a survey by the Division of Labor.

The wage report stated, “Business owners say an increase ‘would immediately put more money in the pocket of low-wage workers who will then spend the money on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services will help stimulate the economy and help create opportunities.’”

Increasing the minimum wage to help people obtain a livable income isn’t uncharted territory. Several cities in the United States have already implemented this increase to prosperous results.

One of these places is San Francisco, where they raised their minimum wage to $13.00 an hour on July 1, and they are expected to continue these increases to $15.00 an hour by July 2018.

This increase in worker compensation was not followed by a Revelations style economic collapse; instead, San Francisco’s economy is thriving.

In fact, a report by UC Berkeley found that the San Francisco job market is in better standing than the rest of California.

The employment growth rate has outpaced the state of California, and unemployment, 4.5 percent, is below the state average of 7.4 percent, according to the report.

If this increase can be successful in San Francisco, as well as other cities such as Seattle and D.C., why should it not be equally, if not more, successful here in Colorado?

Our state’s population growth is one of the fastest in the nation, and, with this increase, it is time to begin thinking about how the people living here are going to afford to do so.

Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage here in Colorado is entirely feasible.

We must come together and demand that our government and businesses begin to take note of our needs so that we can have the opportunity for a quality existence.