Denver City Council unanimously approves minimum wage hike starting Jan. 1

The Denver City Council unanimously increased the citywide minimum wage Monday night to thundering applause throughout its chambers.

The new law requires employers to bump hourly employees to at least $12.85 on Jan. 1, with a second raise to $14.77 following at the start of 2021, and a third to $15.87 in 2022. After that, the new law mandates that it will then be adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

Public comment was overwhelmingly, if not entirely, in favor of the law, which places Denver as the first Colorado city to raise the local minimum wage. Ultimately, the council voted 11-0.

The raises are overdue and while the end goal of $15.87 per hour is a step in the right direction, many said, the council must already consider the next steps.

“Fifteen is going to be rough in two years still,” said Adam Alleman, owner of the Game Lounge in Park Hill. “It’s tough for people to make it out here.”

Initially, the ordinance proposed to mandate the raises in two tiers, reaching $15.87 by 2021, though that plan was mellowed after some criticized it as too aggressive or quick. Mayor Michael Hancock’s office later announced the three-tiered approach and the bill was introduced by Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who called it history in the making Monday night.

“Tonight is about getting parents a few extra hours with their kids,” Kniech said. “It’s about making ends meet. It’s about the chance to stay in your city that you love.”