One saying in Durango never seems to tire: “You need two full-time jobs to keep your head above water. Get used to it. You’ll need three to afford to leave.”
Whether you find the old saw funny depends on your wages. For too many, there is little humor in it.
We support Amendment 70 on this year’s ballot; it calls for an increase of the Colorado minimum wage from the current $8.31 to $12.00 per hour by 2020.
That is less than $1 per year. But that can make a significant difference for struggling individuals and families.
Extensive, unbiased studies find no evidence that moderate increases in minimum wages result in significant job losses. In fact, the opposite occurs. Jobs grew in Colorado when the minimum wage was last increased in 2006.
Additionally, increases tend to benefit business through reduced job turnover and improved products and services. The savings extend to the state as well; people dependent on multiple minimum-wage jobs are also more dependent on services like food stamps.
Many opponents are in favor of raising the minimum wage, but object to using an amendment to do it. Others want exceptions for agriculture, training wages or teen workers seeking first jobs.
As a group, restaurant owners are not in favor, but the minimum wage for tipped workers will remain at $3.02 less per hour than the minimum wage for untipped workers, preserving the current differential. One high-end restaurant in Durango supports the measure. While the policy can not be mandated, it operates on a pooled-tip basis that balances earnings between those “in the front of the house” and those in the kitchen. Other restaurants are moving to a no-tip mode, incorporating a service charge to allow for higher wages into the prices on the menu.
No doubt, Amendment 70 will require some businesses to adjust over time. But a “yes” vote provides relief to struggling workers and families now.