Denver Setting a Mile-High Minimum Wage

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

December 2, 2019

Denver is the latest big city to pass a local minimum wage law.

Under an ordinance signed last week, Denver will require employers to pay covered employees a minimum wage of $12.85 per hour, effective January 1, 2020.

That's just 85 cents higher than the Colorado statewide minimum wage. But the Denver minimum wage will increase sharply from there, as follows:

  • $14.77 per hour, effective January 1, 2021;
  • $15.87 per hour, effective January 1, 2022; and
  • Adjusted for inflation, effective January 1, 2023, and every January 1 thereafter.

Denver is the first city outside of California to enact a local minimum wage ordinance in more than three years. Municipal preemption laws, concerns about the economy and other factors had slowed the growth of local minimum wage laws in recent years. Whether Denver's new ordinance represents a revival of the trend or an aberration remains to be seen.

In a related development, Chicago has amended its ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $14.00, effective July 1, 2020, and to $15.00, effective July 1, 2021.