Oct 222006
 
Authors: Garrett Fitzgerald

Coloradans set to decide whether to boost state’s minimum wage by $1.70 per hour.

An extra $3,500 could go a long way for a college student.

That’s the amount of additional salary a full-time minimum wage worker would get if Coloradans pass Amendment 42 in November.

The measure would boost the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour.

John Walsh, a junior business administration major, makes $5.50 an hour working at Abercrombie & Fitch. He would put the extra cash he’d get if voters pass the measure into his savings account.

“It would be great not to have to work two jobs during the summer,” he said.

Although the Illinois native makes more than the federal minimum wage, the increase would affect him along with 106,000 other workers in the state.

The amendment has resistance.

Ken Boulter, a management professor from the College of Business, said the idea was good in theory but not in practice.

“I think we need to raise the ocean and not the bar,” he said. “The market should set the minimum wage. Minimum wage jobs are mostly in the service industry, and it is becoming increasingly easy to replace those jobs with technology.”

Boulter said the initiative is just a Band-Aid for a larger problem.

“Why shouldn’t we just take that money that we were going to spend and put (it) into increasing the skill sets of workers,” Boulter said.

“Raising the minimum wage is a short term solution; we need to increase skill sets of workers to help them in the long term.”

Under the proposed amendment the minimum wage would be adjusted yearly to match the inflation rate.

“If the situations were right, inflation could take the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and if we hit a downturn in the economy it would mean massive job loss,” Boulter said.

But some local retailers aren’t as opposed to the raising the wages of their workers as one might think.

Steve Kristiansen, general manager of Hat-Trick Sports, a local sporting goods shop, supports the measure.

“I think it would be great for the economy,” he said. “You can’t live off $5.15 an hour; between transportation, food, and especially if you have kids.”

Supporters remain optimistic.

“It would only cost us about $2,500 extra a year,” Kristiansen said. “I don’t know if it would increase business, but I think it would help the economy.”

Staff writer Garrett Fitzgerald can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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mendment 42 at a glance

-It would increase from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour the state minimum wage for salaried workers.

-It would increase from $2.13 to $3.83 per hour the state minimum wage for workers receiving tips.

-Increases would be effective Jan. 1, 2007.

-After that date, the minimum wage would be increased annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) used in Colorado.

Colorado’s minimum wage is currently aligned with the federal minimum wage, which is $5.15 per hour. Here’s how the wage, which was established by and regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, has evolved:

October 1938 $0.25

October 1939 $0.30

October 1945 $0.40

January 1950 $0.75

March 1956 $1.00

September 1961 $1.15

September 1963 $1.25

February 1967 $1.40

February 1968 $1.60

May 1974 $2.00

January 1975 $2.10

January 1976 $2.30

January 1978 $2.65

January 1979 $2.90

January 1980 $3.10

January 1981 $3.35

April 1990 $3.80

April 1991 $4.25

October 1996 $4.75

September 1997 $5.15

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