Delegates at last weekend’s Colorado Democratic Party State Assembly voted to add to the party’s platform a resolution, “Raise the Minimum and Living Wage,” that calls for a state-mandated minimum wage of $11 per hour.
That’s a 37.5 percent jump from the current Colorado minimum wage, which rose from $7.78 to $8 per hour as of Jan. 1.
The newly added plank also calls for state leaders to mandate a “living wage” of $15 per hour. The term “living wage” is generally used to describe the cost of living for individuals or families in a particular location.
In Washington, DC however, the city council voted last year to require companies with more than $1 billion in annual earnings—primarily large retailers like Wal-Mart–to pay employees a $12.50 per hour “living wage,” which was 50 percent higher than the minimum wage.
Mayor Vincent Gray ultimately vetoed the measure after Wal-Mart officials said they would abandon plans to build six stores in DC if the living wage was enacted.
The Colorado Democrats’ resolution didn’t explain the difference between the two wages, but did say that both would be tied to inflation at a rate equivalent to 2014 dollars and that “the state has the ability to mandate a living wage.”
National Democrats have pushed the minimum-wage issue in an effort to boost the party’s shaky political prospects in 2014. Five Democrat-dominated states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota and West Virginia—along with the District of Columbia have raised the minimum wage this year, according to Stateline.
DC raised the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour, but none of the other states reached the $11 figure advocated in the Colorado Democrats’ resolution.
Critics argue that increasing the minimum wage hurts more than it helps by causing employers either to lay off workers or raise prices while eroding the entry-level job market.
A Congressional Budget Office study released Feb. 14 found that about 900,000 workers would be lifted out of poverty by raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, but another 500,000 would lose their jobs.
The Colorado Democrats’ resolution said that the federal minimum wage has failed to keep pace with inflation and “does not provide individuals with enough to live above federal poverty standards.”In the state legislature, a Democrat-sponsored resolution urging the federal government to raise the minimum wage passed the state House on March 13.