Among the 31 priorities established last year, the Fort Collins City Council seeks to raise the local minimum wage to address economic inequality.
In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed HB-1210, which set in place the ability for counties and municipalities to establish a local minimum wage in excess of the statewide minimum of $12.56 per hour (2022). The bill further defines the process and limitations of local government action, which includes consultation with local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, workers, unions and community groups prior to adoption.
While that process is underway here in Fort Collins, local employers are already grappling with rapidly rising wages and benefits across all industries. Your Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce has been tracking this dynamic. Through the NoCo Recovers website, we can see average hourly-equivalent wages rising from $26.50 in January 2019 to $33.85 by March 2022, up 28% overall which equates to an annual wage inflation rate of 12%. Source: NoCo Recovers. Meanwhile, businesses are still struggling to fill open positions, grow our economy, and create opportunities for our next generation of workers while managing the implications of far reaching state-mandated employee benefits.
At its July 12 Work Session, Council will revisit this topic. We encourage our members to be heard on this issue and invite you to reach out directly to the Mayor and your Council representative to express your thoughts.
Sample talking points:
- The pandemic has introduced myriad complexities to operating a successful business. Now is not the time to further aggravate this condition.
- Small, locally-owned businesses are least able to absorb higher employment costs and provide the resulting monitoring data.
- Prevailing labor market conditions are far more dynamic than bureaucratic processes. By the time any local minimum wage is adopted, the market will have responded according to actual conditions to render the requirement moot.
- Entry-level and semi-skilled jobs are most imperiled by automation. Wages established by arbitrary action of government exacerbate the challenge of moving young people and those still learning their craft into the workforce.
- Economic mobility is greatly diminished when young and semi-skilled workers are denied the opportunity to gain valuable experience.
Source: Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce