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League of Women Voters of Boulder County
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy
Serving the People of Boulder County, Colorado
HomeLiving Wage Campaign 2023–2025

Living Wage Campaign 2023–2025

In recent years, LWVBC has been involved in successful campaigns in Boulder and Longmont to help increase the wages of workers and contractors employed by those cities to a living wage

In 2023, the LWVBC joined the Boulder County Self-Sufficiency Wage Coalition, the advocacy group of labor organizations, nonprofits, and other community organizations that support the efforts of the Boulder County Consortium of Cities to achieve a minimum wage at the self-sufficiency level throughout the county.

Attention is now on the municipalities of Boulder, Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, and Erie.
From February into April a number of virtual and in-person engagement opportunities, with English and Spanish options, took place to learn how much people are currently being paid, how people feel about raising the minimum wage, and any positive and negative impacts that may come to individuals, businesses, and the community. People were also invited to respond to the online questionnaire. In summer of 2024, councils will be presented with feedback from community engagement as well as the findings of the third-party economic analysis as they consider if and how to move forward with an increase to the minimum wage.

Read all about the five municipalities and their efforts here.

Since 2019, Colorado law has allowed local governments to raise the minimum wage for all workers, not just municipal employees. The Boulder County Consortium of Cities, which is made up of elected officials, is facilitating the current effort. 

By law, various stakeholders—groups that are impacted by the outcome of this effort--are required to participate in the process before the minimum wage can be raised. Stakeholders include chambers of commerce, small and large businesses, businesses that employ tipped workers, workers, labor unions, and community groups.  

Current minimum wage

On November 2, 2023, our Boulder County Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance that  increases the minimum wage in unincorporated areas of the county to $15.69 per hour beginning January 1, 2024.  That is 15 % above the state minimum, as the law allows. The  minimum wage ordinance for unincorporated Boulder County is in response to the needs of the lowest paid workers in the face of the rising cost of living,

The Commissioners also voted in favor of reaching a minimum wage of $25 per hour by 2030.

In 2024, Colorado's minimum wage  increased from $13.65 per hour to $14.42 per hour, and from $10.63 to $11.40 for tipped employees.
Denver's minimum wage rose to $18.29 per hour.

The goal is a minimum wage at the self-sufficiency level—what a worker needs to earn to pay basic living expenses without assistance. 


Important points in the 2023–2030 projections by the County Commissioners

 •  The “pause” in 2025 (5.67% increase, below 8.58%) allows the municipalities to get aligned with the County. The Colorado minimum wage is supposed to be $14.42 in 2024, and the municipalities are limited to a 15% increase in any year. That limits the municipalities to $16.57 in 2025. 
•  Then, assuming the municipalities join in ( through an Intergovernmental Agreement, or IGA), the yearly increases result in a minimum wage of $25.00 per hour for 2030. This is a compromise. The coalition had been advocating for $25.00 in 2028, so it has been delayed for 2 years.

Some figures

  •  The current Colorado minimum wage is $14.42.
  •  Boulder County pays all its own employees a minimum of $22.44 per hour,  as set by the county's livable wage policy.
  •  In Boulder County the self-sufficiency wage is $21.41— what a worker needs to earn to pay basic living expenses without assistance. 

  •  The City and County of Denver implemented a local minimum wage in 2020. 
  •  The Boulder County Self-Sufficiency Wage Coalition's original proposal would have gradually raised the minimum wage to $25/hour by 2028 (not 2030).
       See the coalition factsheet.

More reading

Read the Local Minimum Wage Report 2023 from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Read about the Longmont Living Wage Coalition in 2019 – the campaign, its successes.