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The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) Division of Labor Standards and Statistics (DLSS) announced today the proposed new Colorado minimum wage, currently at $12.32 for 2021, will rise on January 1, 2022 to $12.56, or $9.54 for those receiving enough in tips for total pay to meet or exceed the full minimum wage.

An annual, inflation-adjusted minimum wage is mandated by a section of the Colorado Constitution that Colorado voters adopted in a 2006 ballot measure (with the exception of 2017-20, when the minimum wage rose by larger amounts due to another ballot measure, in 2016, raising the minimum wage by 90-99 cents annually until it reached $12.00 by 2020).

Open for business. Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

“As we build back better, it’s great to see Colorado workers get a decent raise on the minimum wage to $12.56/hour as our state builds an economy that works for everybody,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Investing in upskilling to help workers have the skills needed to earn much more than minimum wage is one of our top priorities, so Colorado can continue to be a place where everyone can thrive.”

DLSS executes the constitutionally mandated minimum wage adjustment as part of its annual wage law rulemaking. That annual process begins with publishing proposed rules by late September, followed by a comment period that ends with a public hearing, and then adoption of final rules, by late November.

This year, the proposed wage rules will be published by September 30, 2021, followed by a public hearing on November 1, 2021, and then adoption by November 10, 2021, of final versions of the rules that will take effect January 1, 2022. That same rulemaking schedule will apply to other DLSS rulemaking mandated by recently enacted agricultural labor rights and responsibilities legislation.

Last week, the Joint Budget Committee members and Chair Moreno approved a plan put forward by the Polis-Primavera administration and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing that stipulates that starting January 1, 2022, direct care workers funded with any state dollars working in-home and community-based settings are to receive a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

In Colorado, 47 percent of direct care workers access some form of public assistance to meet their daily needs and 34 percent get at least some care from Medicaid.

As required by Colorado rulemaking law, the public gets the  opportunity to comment on any of these matters between now and November 3, either at the public hearing (in person, by phone, or by remote video participation) or as written comments that may be submitted in any of these ways:

Online submission form for comments on wage rules (not related to agriculture)
Online submission form for comments on agricultural labor rules
Spanish-language online submission form for comments in Spanish
Email to or mail to: CDLE Division of Labor Standards & Statistics, 633 17th Street, Denver, CO 80202.

Inflation for Colorado is calculated and published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and because the minimum wage inflation adjustment must be published by September each year, it is based on inflation from mid-year to mid-year.

The 2022 minimum wage is therefore the 2021 minimum wage, increased by inflation from the middle of 2020 to the middle of 2021.

Over the past decade, the Colorado minimum wage has risen from $7.36/hour in 2011 to $12.32/hour in 2021. The fact that the cost of housing , especially in central mountain communities has risen much faster than wages lies beneath the current workforce housing crisis.