Project Overview

The Cities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville and Erie are collectively exploring an increase to the local minimum wage in their respective communities, as allowed by state law, through research and community engagement to consider a specific minimum wage level that is competitive, responsive to current and future needs, and meets as many shared outcomes as possible.

Exploring an increase to minimum wage regionally.

Current minimum wages

The following are the minimum wages in the state as of Jan. 1, 2024:

  • Colorado (statewide, including the City of Boulder, Louisville, Longmont, Layfette and Erie) – $14.42 or $11.40 with tips
  • Denver – $18.29 or $15.27 with tips
  • Edgewater – $15.02 or $12 with tips
  • Unincorporated Boulder County – $15.69 or $12.67 with tips


In 2019, the State legislature passed House Bill 19-1210 Local Government Minimum Wage (HB 19-1210), which gave local governments the right to set their own minimum wage. Later that same year, our communities began discussions on this topic but were interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five years later the pandemic has become endemic, and we have felt the numerous impacts to our economies including sharp increases in inflation, interest rates and the cost of living.

Why a regional approach?

  • Changing the minimum wage in any community changes the regional economy
  • Many people live in different communities than where they work
  • Businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations have operations and customers throughout the county
  • A regional approach to considering minimum wage will help us understand the challenges and opportunities in the regional economy, and could provide consistency for employees and employers who may participate across multiple communities.

Making an Informed Decision

Community involvement and economic analysis are needed in order for elected officials to make an informed decision on a potential change.

Economic Analysis

An economic analysis is being conducted to determine the potential economic effects of increasing regional minimum wage on local businesses, employers, workers, and overall local socio-economic indicators. The results of the analysis will include recommendations for a new target wage, a plan to reach that target, and how to adjust the minimum wage annually after reaching the goal.

Community Engagement

A community engagement model was co-created with staff members from each of the five participating communities, members of Chambers of Commerce, members of the Self Sufficiency Wage Coalition and members of nonprofits. This model is being used across all participating cities and is tailored and implemented based on community needs. Information from community engagement will inform elected officials in each jurisdiction whether and how to move forward with ordinances regarding local minimum wage.

Regional collaboration does not commit any city to an outcome.


February - AprilMunicipality-led Community Engagement.
February - JuneConsultant -led Socio-Economic Analysis.
June-July Report to respective City Councils on the consultant analysis and engagement feedback.
Fall 2024City Councils consider target wage proposal.
January 2025New minimum wage is implemented, if applicable.


From February through April a number of virtual and in-person engagement opportunities, with English and Spanish options, took place to learn how much people are currently being paid, how people feel about raising the minimum wage, and any positive and negative impacts that may come to individuals, businesses, and the community. People were also invited to respond to the online questionnaire. The window for engagement closed on April 15. In summer of 2024, councils will be presented with feedback from community engagement as well as the findings of the third-party economic analysis as they consider if and how to move forward with an increase to the minimum wage.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Living Wage is an amount of money that, in theory, should enable individuals or families to afford decent housing, food, and other essential needs. Boulder, Longmont, and Boulder County have living wage policies that only apply to their own and contracted staff. City and county workforce living wages do not apply community wide. Many in Boulder County base these workforce living wages on the Self Sufficiency Standard report PDF, which is led by Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

The options have not been defined yet, they will be determined through the economic analysis and community engagement.

Normally minimum wage raises will have a target amount, but those raises don’t happen overnight. After adoption of a new target wage the minimum wage will escalate over a few years until it reaches the target. After that wages can be tied to an index, like the consumer price index, to guide annual adjustments to ensure minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living. Currently, Colorado is one of 30 states along with Washington D.C. that have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage is indexed for inflation in 19 states and D.C., meaning it is automatically adjusted each year for increases in prices.

House Bill 19-1210 Local Government Minimum Wage states that any wage raise – either an escalation to a target or an annual adjustment – must coincide with state increases on January 1.

  • Ordinance adoption must be preceded by community engagement
  • Only 10% of jurisdictions across the state can adopt a different minimum wage ordinance, but an intergovernmental agreement covering several municipalities is considered one in that calculation
  • Any wage raise – either an escalation to a target or an annual adjustment – must happen at the same time as state increases on January 1
  • Escalation is limited to $1.75 or 15%, whichever is higher
  • The tip credit must be equal to state offset

For a regional approach to work, many items will need consensus from participating communities, except for enforcement and escalation schedules, which can be different local decisions for each community. For a new minimum wage, collaborating cities will need to agree on:

  • Target wage and annual increases to reach that target wage, escalation is typically over a 3-5 year period
  • After escalation, how to make regular adjustments into the future (also called indexing)
  • Whether or not to expand the wage to cover unemancipated minors (minors still under parental authority)
  • Enforcement

Boulder City Council decided on a longer timeline so that cities could collaboratively explore this topic. This effort is on a timeline topursue a potential minimum wage increase regionally starting in 2025.

No. The purpose of this regional effort is to provide elected officials with enough information to determine if and how to act on local minimum wage in their community.

Project Contacts