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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Fort Collins takes minimum wage survey, considers raising it

Fort+Collins+takes+minimum+wage+survey%2C+considers+raising+it

Collegian | Chloe Leline

Emmalee Krieg, Staff Reporter

Minimum wage is always a hot topic, especially when it pertains to students. Recently, the City of Fort Collins sent out a survey to discuss the possibility of raising the minimum wage.

According to the City of Fort Collins Minimum Wage webpage, the minimum wage in Fort Collins is currently $12.56, which is the statewide level. Colorado’s minimum wage is based on the Consumer Price Index, which is currently very high.

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“The stressor is the cost of housing,” said Ginny Sawyer, project and policy manager for the City of Fort Collins. “Data shows that wages have actually kind of kept up with a lot of goods and standard costs — they have not been able to keep up with housing.”

The survey results, posted on the city’s Minimum Wage webpage, show 1,159 respondents were employees. Almost half of those were between the ages of 20-29. While some lived with children or other family members, a large portion of employee survey respondents were college students.

“Students made up about — almost — 40% of the total respondents, but they made up almost 60% of the lowest earners,” Sawyer said.

That’s a huge deal, especially factoring in the price of school.

“Minimum wage has been rough for a while,” said Melissa Volentine, a customer sales associate at the CSU Bookstore. 

Volentine is relatively new to Fort Collins from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she went to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs for two years. Having moved from there to Fort Collins this August, she spoke about the difference in wages at UCCS.

“Right before I left UCCS, the campus had just raised their minimum wage to $14 an hour, and it pleased a lot of students,” Volentine said. 

This means an implication of raising minimum wage is a chance to help students. “Anything to help people kind of make ends meet,” Volentine said.

“Our survey was just one piece of doing some outreach and engaging the community around the potential of rising minimum wage.” -Ginny Sawyer, City of Fort Collins project and policy manager

The survey is a good point of reference for the City Council.

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“The goal is to raise the lowest wage workers but do it in a way that is sustainable for businesses,” Sawyer said.

According to the Minimum Wage webpage, the City Council “will discuss the minimum wage analysis in November.”

“We summarized the information to present to the council so they can consider it when they make decisions,” Sawyer said.

The council’s main goal is to consider raising the minimum wage, but part of the issue is that businesses need some predictability.

“Employers are still feeling quite a bit of stress and crunch from (the) pandemic as well as labor shortage and supply chain stresses,” Sawyer said.

Employers are still coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, so while raising the labor pool minimum wage is nice, uncertain times make it difficult. 

House Bill 19-1210 is partially responsible for these steps toward raising minimum wage. The bill was passed by the Colorado General Assembly in 2019, “allowing communities to set their own minimum wage standards,” according to Fort Collins’ website.

While the survey is not totally statistically valid because people self-select, it is a stepping stone.

“Our survey was just one piece of doing some outreach and engaging the community around the potential of rising minimum wage,” Sawyer said.

 Reach Emmalee Krieg at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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