What Is the Minimum Wage in Colorado State?

Madison Baker  | 

In the state of Colorado, the minimum wage is $11.10 per hour as of 2019. This is the absolute minimum amount of money that employers can legally pay their hourly employees in this state. Though the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, employers in Colorado are required to pay their hourly workers the higher state wage.

However, not every hourly worker is entitled to receive $11.10 per hour for their labor. Between the differences in federal and state wages and the exceptions to the minimum wage laws within Colorado, it can be difficult to know exactly how much your labor is worth. To eliminate some of this confusion, let’s go over the current minimum wage laws in Colorado, explain who can be paid a different wage, and look at some of the changes to Colorado’s minimum wage laws that you can expect to see in the future.

2019 Minimum Wage in Colorado: $11.10 per hour

Again, for hourly employees in Colorado, the minimum wage is $11.10 per hour. The minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index that reflects the amount of inflation experienced each year. When inflation rises, so does the minimum wage, and when it falls, the minimum wage decreases.

You must be a legal adult or emancipated minor to receive the hourly rate of $11.10. There are three main groups who are exempt from this rate and may be paid less: tipped workers, students, and new employees under the age of 20.

Tipped: $8.08 per hour

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) defines a tipped employee as “any employee engaged in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30.00 per month in tips.” Waiters, bartenders, baristas, hairdressers, and valets are just a few of the professionals who may qualify as tipped employees in Colorado state.

Employers can pay tipped employees less than the normal minimum wage to offset the tips they receive. This is deducted from their pay as a “Tip Credit,” which cannot exceed $3.02 per hour. When the maximum Tip Credit is taken, tipped employees can be paid no less than $8.08 per hour; combined with tips, they must earn a minimum hourly rate of $11.20. Depending on how many tips you earn in a shift, your wage rate may change. If you don’t receive any tips during your shift, you must be paid at least $11.20 per hour.

Students: $9.44 per hour

Some students may also be exempt from receiving the normal state minimum wage. Employers can pay full-time high school and college students who work part-time 85 percent of the minimum wage — currently, that’s no less than $9.44 per hour. Workers are only eligible to be paid this rate for up to 20 hours per week. Further, this only applies to certain jobs, such as university work-study programs, and not every employer in the state.

New Employees: $4.25 per hour

Following regulations set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the state of Colorado allows any employer to pay newly hired workers under the age of 20 a “training wage” of $4.25 per hour. This wage is only eligible for the first 90 days of employment. If you are over the age of 20, you must be paid the standard minimum wage. If you are under the age of 20, you must be paid the standard minimum wage after 90 days of employment.

Weekly: $444.00 per week

If you work a standard full-time week of 40 hours and are paid the minimum wage of $11.10 per hour, you will earn $88.80 per day, or $444.00 each week. This amount does not account for state or federal taxes, the cost of benefits, or retirement contributions. Further, many employees do not work exactly 40 hours per week. Depending on these other factors, your actual weekly wages may be lower than this estimate.

Annually: $23,088.00 per year

Working a standard 40-hour week for all 52 weeks in a year will result in annual earnings of $23,088.00 when making $11.10 per hour. Again, this estimate does not account for taxes or other wage deductions. It also does not take vacation or sick leave into consideration. For some reason or another, you may not work 52, 40-hour weeks in a year, and your actual wages may be lower than this result.

Overtime: $16.65 per hour

In certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive overtime pay in Colorado. CDLE notes that hourly employees must be paid 1.5 times the minimum wage, or $16.65 per hour, when they either:

  • Work more than 40 hours in a single week;
  • Work more than 12 hours in a single day;
  • Work more than 12 consecutive hours, regardless of when the day starts or ends;

If you earn more than the minimum wage and work any overtime hours, you’re also entitled to 1.5 times your usual wage for all overtime hours worked.

In addition, Colorado state law neither mandates nor prohibits holiday pay when you work on a holiday; whether or not you receive holiday pay, and if so, how much, is left to the discretion of your employer. Holiday hours only count toward overtime if you actually worked on the holiday itself.

Colorado Minimum Wage Increase News

Other states, such as Oklahoma and New York, are currently looking at or enacting legislation for statewide minimum wage increases. The latest change in Colorado minimum wage law, though, was passed on November 8, 2016.

Amendment 70

Effective since January 2017, Amendment 70 outlines a path to increase the Colorado minimum wage by $0.90 each year, until reaching $12.00 per hour in January 2020. After reaching $12.00 in 2020, the minimum wage will be recalculated each year to account for inflation and increased costs of living based on the Consumer Price Index. This amendment currently governs minimum wage law in Colorado.

After the final increase in 2020, it will be possible that the minimum wage may drop in Colorado, depending on how the adjustments reflect in the Consumer Price Index. If the minimum wage in Colorado ever drops below $7.25, employers will be required to pay their workers the federal minimum wage.

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This post was updated June 5, 2019. It was originally published April 4, 2019.