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Living Wage

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In 2014, the city expressed interest in evaluating and expanding Resolution 926, the current living wage policy for City of Boulder employees, in an effort to address issues of livable wages in the city workforce and community livability. The City Manager convened a staff working group to prepare an analysis of increasing the Living Wage and potential update to the 2003 Resolution 926, committing the city to pay standard, full-time employees no less than 120 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Living Wage is distinguished from minimum wage, which is set by the federal government. The 2015 federal minimum wage standard is $7.25 per hour, considerably less than 120 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. A living wage is an amount intended to help people meet basic living needs and maintain or achieve self-sufficiency. As real wages over time have decreased relative to the cost of living, more communities are implementing some form of a living wage to address this issue.

Colorado state law currently prohibits local government from establishing a city-wide minimum wage, other than for its own employees. The statute does not restrict local governments from establishing policies that address the wages it pays to employees or contractors. Without the option of establishing a minimum wage across the board for all workers in the community, City Council opted in 2003 to adopt Resolution 926 that directed the city manager to pay the city’s standard full time employees no less than 120 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In 2003 when the Resolution was implemented, that wage was $10.62 per hour. The wage has been adjusted each year since and is currently $13.99 per hour.

In February 2016, Resolution 926 expanded to other categories of city employees, including part-time and temporary. Additionally, City Council expressed interest in conducting a citywide Gender Wage Equity Analysis . The purpose of the analysis was to examine compensation equity between male and female employees of the City of Boulder. You can view the City of Boulder Gender Wage Equity Study here .

The 2017 Approved City Budget includes increased funding for an expanding living wage for city employees, janitorial and landscape contractors, and emergency medical services (EMS) ambulance providers. The 2017 Budget includes funding to increase wage rates for contracted janitorial and landscaping service providers, as well as an EMS ambulance service provider, to a minimum rate of $15.67 per hour for workers providing services. Staff will report regularly to council on Living Wage compliance and will provide additional information, as appropriate, on benefits offered by the contractor to its employees performing services for the City of Boulder.

Status and Potential Next Steps

  • Staff will analyze the feasibility of applying the living wage provision to contracts awarded to non-profits and other governmental agencies. and seasonal employees. Staff will return to council with recommendations in April 2017.  

Council Action

  • Second Quarter 2017 - Staff Recommendations on Feasibility to Apply Living Wage to Contracts and Seasonal Employees

Staff Contact

Email: Community Relations and Office of Human Rights Manager or call 303-441-3141.