Minimum wage increase has light touch in Crested Butte

State increases minimum pay from $6.85 to $7.02

The statewide minimum wage increased by a matter of a dime, a nickel and two pennies this week from $6.85 to $7.02 per hour, but the change is having little effect in the Crested Butte area according to local business representatives.




The minimum wage for tipped positions also increased, from a baseline of $3.83 per hour plus tips, to $4 plus tips.
According to Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce director Christi Matthews, the change will have little effect locally because most businesses already pay above the minimum wage. “I don’t know that it will really affect us. Minimum wage is not really a livable wage in Crested Butte,” Matthews says. She says while there are some businesses that may be against minimum wage increases, the businesses in Crested Butte tend to pay higher wages due to the cost of living in the area.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) general manger Randy Barrett says the wage increase, “affects a very small percentage of our jobs.”
CBMR director of human resources and risk management Lilly Hughes says the basic entry-level wage for non-tipped jobs is $8.16 per hour. She says only a handful of low-end tipped positions, such as valet parking attendants and some cafeteria staff, are affected.
According to Hughes, CBMR reviews its compensation structure every two years to check if wage increases are necessary.
Barrett says the ski industry in general is beyond minimum wages. “We look at what we need to do to be competitive as an employer, and to get the right individual to do the job,” he says of wage adjustments.
At the Colorado Workforce Center in Gunnison, employment specialist Seth Adams says there are only 10 to 15 jobs on the call board that are at minimum wage level. “It’s mainly restaurant-type jobs, which are tipped employees, and very rare entry-level-type jobs. It’s not going to make a huge impact,” Adams says. He says all of the positions are located in or near the City of Gunnison. Adams says another reason why positions in or around Crested Butte may pay more is to cover the cost of commuting from Gunnison, as some employees may find the cost of living too high in Crested Butte.
In 2006 Colorado voters approved Amendment 42, which increased the minimum wage from $6.15 to $6.85 and tied wages to inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index for the Denver-Boulder-Greeley urban area. The same formula will be used each year by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to determine wage increases. 2008 will be the first year with minimum wages adjusted as per inflation.
Colorado’s new $7.02 minimum wage is above the federal level of $5.85, which increased in July 2007. In May 2007 President Bush signed a federal minimum wage increase into law, the first change to the federal level of $5.15 per hour since 1997, and one that will increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 over three years. The federal law will increase minimum wages again this July to $6.55 per hour.
The new statewide minimum wage took effect on January 1, 2008. 

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