Denver’s minimum wage workers received a raise to start the new year.
That’s good news for those workers, but it could be a tough adjustment for some local small businesses.
This year, Denver’s minimum wage is up to $17.29, compared to $15.87 last year.
One small business owner who has seen the results is Mary Lovett of Maggie and Molly’s Sweet Life Bakery in Cherry Creek.
Lovett is now changing her menu prices to comply with the city’s new rules.
“I was trying to find out what the best prices were and then compare them to other bakeries and other caterers in the cities,” Lovett said.
It’s been six years since she changed her rates, but Denver’s new minimum wage is forcing her to change rates to keep her five employees.
“It’s something I believe in and choose, but it always knocks back a little bit,” Lovett said.
The new minimum wage in Denver is up nearly 9 percent from last year.
Despite the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and higher than the statewide minimum wage of $13.65, living in Denver is still difficult for many even with the new changes.
However, cookie decorator, baker and designer, Inga Wittgraf helps with Maggie and Molly’s Sweet Life.
“I think it makes a big difference. If I was being paid what I was getting when I started here, I wouldn’t be able to stay here,” Wittgraff said.
Wittgraf has been working at the shop for about four years.
She has seen her salary increase in the past two years since the city’s minimum wage ordinance was passed in 2019.
But even with the new wage increase, she still earns less than the median income in Denver. It was the work and the environment that kept her coming back.
“I love my boss, most of the clients are great and more fun than any other job I’ve had,” Wittgraf said.
Lovett looks set to keep raising prices until she can incorporate the new changes to keep up with demand, inflation and her workforce.
“I will continue to look at the prices to see where we can get more money to keep the business going.” Lovett said.
Under the new city law, Denver Labor, the group in the auditor’s office that investigates and verifies companies’ payments, will protect businesses that don’t follow the rules.
Last year, the group recovered more than 1.1 million dollars.