Denver minimum wage gets closer to $15 an hour on New Years Day 2021

The city is entering the second year of phased wage hikes.

A construction flagger wears a mask at Park Avenue and Champa Street in Five Points, April 1, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A construction flagger wears a mask at Park Avenue and Champa Street in Five Points, April 1, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Starting Jan. 1, Denver business owners must pay workers at least $14.77 per hour.

The new minimum wage is nearly $2 higher than it was in 2020. Denver is in the second year of its attempt to narrow the gap between what people are paid and what it costs to live in an increasingly expensive city.

In a joint statement last year, Mayor Michael Hancock and City Councilmember Robin Kniech, the law’s co-sponsors, said they considered delaying the rate hike because of hardships that the pandemic has placed on local businesses. But they decided against asking the Denver City Council to stall things.

“This was not an easy decision, but as our economy recovers — and we know it will — we don’t want to leave behind our minimum wage workers, who are often frontline workers in the pandemic and disproportionately women and people of color,” Hancock and Kniech stated. “Putting additional dollars into the hands of workers also provides an economic stimulus by increasing their ability to spend.”

In 2022, the city’s baseline wage will reach $15.87. Starting in 2023, Denver’s minimum wage will be pegged to the consumer price index. In other words, as life costs change — transportation, food, healthcare — the minimum wage will change with them.

Workers in cities across the country have been fighting for a $15 minimum wage since at least 2012, when fast-food workers in New York went on strike.

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