Martin Shields, a regional economist with Colorado State University, doesn't believe the cost-of-living increase in the state minimum wage, which goes into effect on January 1, is likely to hurt businesses. The 12-cents-per-hour raise amounts to $7.36 per hour, or $4.34 per hour for tip-earners, such as waiters and bartenders, notes the Fort Collins Coloradoan. The increase has its critics, like David May, the president and CEO of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce. "It is like a tax on small business," he says. "It reduces their ability to hire new people and increase wages." Shields counters that if such a small amount "is the difference in hiring a worker and not, then there are other problems going on with the business."
While some question whether the wage increase will make much difference for the employees at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, it is worth pointing out that Colorado workers now earn more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (or $2.13 for tipped employees), according to the state's Department of Labor and Employment.