Denver Workers in Minimum & Low-Wage Jobs

In recent years, more than 40 cities and counties across the U.S. have set higher local minimum wages to better help workers in their communities get ahead economically. Rigorous economic analyses of these local minimum wage laws show they boost earnings without having significant negative effects on employment. The Colorado General Assembly is considering a bill (HB19-1210) to repeal the current law prohibiting local governments from setting a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage. Our research shows:

  • A higher local minimum wage in Denver would likely help 116,183 workers
  • Greater proportions of these workers are people of color, women, and less educated compared to all workers
  • A greater proportion of these workers live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), compared to Denver workers overall

Related: By the Numbers: Colorado Workers in Low-Wage Jobs

To better understand the types of workers who would most likely be affected by changes in Denver’s local minimum wage to $15 per hour, we analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). To conduct our analysis, we define workers in low-wage jobs as those making between the 2016 tipped wage and the 2017 minimum wage ($5.29-$9.29) and define workers in affected minimum wage jobs as those making between $9.30 and $14.99.

We used the 2016 tipped and 2017 minimum wage to capture a larger group of people, as there were a few hundred observations identified as making more than zero dollars, but below the 2017 tipped wage. In defining these measures, we focused on all workers who were working at least 20 hours per week. 

Get the facts about Denver workers in low-wage and minimum wage jobs by reading our new brief now.