Denver Citywide Minimum Wage Rises to $15.87 on Jan. 1, 2022

Published on December 29, 2021

Needed increase comes in midst of rising cost of living and worker wage demands

Denver’s citywide minimum wage will increase to $15.87/hr. on January 1, 2022. The scheduled increase comes from a Local Minimum Wage ordinance sponsored by At-Large Councilwoman Robin Kniech and Mayor Michael B. Hancock that was approved unanimously by Denver City Council in November 2019. The wage increase from $14.77 to $15.87 will boost pay for tens of thousands of people who work in the City and County of Denver. The 2022 raise is the third of three “catch-up” steps occurring annually since 2020. Beginning in 2023, Denver’s citywide minimum wage will increase more gradually on January 1 of each year according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  

The pressure of rising cost of living on working families is well-documented and widespread, as is worker demand for higher wages across all industries and throughout the country, including Colorado. Denver’s minimum wage increase comes at a critical time. “Higher wages for the workers our city depends on every day will help them mitigate cost-of-living increases and raise thousands of their families out of poverty,” commented Councilwoman Robin Kniech. “And because Denver’s wage has been rising since 2020 at pre-planned intervals, Denver employers were better positioned to meet today’s worker wage demand than communities and employers who came into this economy at the state minimum wage floor.” 

“At a time when workers are doing everything they can to get by, this raise is a little bit of extra relief to help them support themselves and their families,” Mayor Hancock said. “Our economy needs to work for everyone, and for our working families, this pay raise is a big deal, especially during our recovery from the pandemic.” 

“This raise is beneficial to my coworkers and I. It will allow me to save more money in addition to providing for life’s necessities,” said Jamiyah Law, a grocery worker in Denver. “The raise is an opportunity to increase my independence.”  

Councilwoman Kniech is calling on the community to help get the word out to employers in advance of the increase. According to Denver Labor, the division of the Denver Auditor’s Office charged with enforcement of the local minimum wage, most non-compliance is reported in the first part of the new year after a new increase has gone into effect. “We encourage employers to plan ahead by programming their payroll systems now, ahead of January 1, to ensure they are compliant at the start of every new year,” Denver Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, said.  

Other issues employers should look out for include: 

  • Employers with locations near the border of the City and County of Denver: “Employers should not rely on their mailing address to determine whether or not to pay Denver's local minimum wage,” Auditor O’Brien said. “We recommend using our regional address finder on our website to check if work was performed within the boundaries of the City and County of Denver.”  
  • Consistent with state law, Denver’s local minimum wage allows a reduced wage to be paid to tipped workers in the food & beverage sector only: Employers in the food and beverage industry may claim up to $3.02/hr for a tip credit, if they have documentation showing their employee received at least that amount in tips. If the full tip credit is applied, the minimum wage rate would be $12.85/hr. However, the tip credit does not apply to workers in other industries, even if they sometimes receive tips. 
  • For contractors who do business with the city or operate on city-owned facilities, including the airport: Before the Colorado General Assembly authorized local governments like Denver to raise wages for all workers in their boundaries, Denver had a prevailing wage law that set wages for certain construction and service contractor employees doing business with the city. Denver had also adopted a contractor minimum wage to cover the city’s own employees and remaining contractors. These pre-existing wage requirements are often slightly different or on different schedules than the citywide minimum wage, but employers doing business with the city or on city property are always required to pay the highest of any wage law that applies.  

Denver employers:

Can go to or to learn more and prepare for the increase. 

Denver employees who believe they are not earning the accurate minimum wage:  
Have the option of filing a complaint with Denver Labor or may pursue a private, civil legal action. Denver Labor has English and Spanish complaint forms and staff who are happy to answer questions for workers and employers in English or Spanish. Wage complaints may be anonymous and Denver Labor makes every effort to keep a complainant’s information confidential. Denver Labor will not ask for or consider a party’s citizenship or immigration status, and employers may not take adverse action against a worker for their involvement in an investigation. To learn more or to access a minimum wage calculator, a tip tracker tool for the food and beverage industry, or other FAQs, workers can visit / or call 720-913-5039.   

Read the Press Release in Spanish: El salario mínimo en la ciudad de Denver sube a $15.87 dólares el 1 de enero de 2022 en medio del aumento del coste de vida y de las demandas salariales de los trabajadores

Read the Press Release in Vietnamese: Từ ngày 1 tháng 1, 2022 Mức Lương Tối Thiểu Trên Toàn Thành Phố Denver tăng lên $15.87 Do Chi Phí Sinh Hoạt Tăng và Nhu Cầu Tăng Lương Của Người Lao Động

Read the Press Release in Amharic: በኑሮ ውድነት መጨመር እና በሠራተኞች የደሞዝ ጥያቄ ምክንያት በመላው ዴንቨር ከተማ ከጃንዋሪ 1, 2022 ጀምሮ ዝቅተኛው ደሞዝ ወደ $15.87 ከፍ እንዲል ተደርጓል

Read the Press Release in Chinese: 丹佛市最低时薪将于2022年1月1日上调至15.87美元,以应对生活成本高企,劳动者持续要求涨薪的情况

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