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Denver Mayor Considers $15/Hour Minimum Wage For City Employees

DENVER (CBS4) - Mayor Michael Hancock is considering raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for city employees -- and people who work for businesses that operate in city facilities -- according to a statement released Tuesday.

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"While unemployment is low and Denver's economy is among the strongest in the country, wage growth has not kept pace with a rising cost of living," Mayor Hancock stated. "Lower- and middle-income workers are struggling to get by."

"I believe we have an opportunity here to make a meaningful difference in people's lives," Hancock stated.

The Department of Finance has been directed to explore increasing starting pay for city, contractor, vendor and tenant employees to $15 an hour. The increase would be phased in over several years.

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Some employees, like Rita Robledo, say the raise would be life changing. She used to be homeless and works in Denver's Day Work Program.

"I can honestly tell you that would be the answer to a lot of the problems I do have. It's hard to find housing I can afford," she told CBS4's Dominic Garcia.

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Rita Robledo (credit: CBS)

Robledo mostly works for Denver's Parks and Recreation department. She says a raise could give her something she's only ever dreamed of, home ownership.

"I love my apartment, don't get me wrong. But my little Brutus, he's a hyper little dog. I'd like to be able to afford a little yard for him," said Robledo.

According to the statement, the review process will include outreach to community stakeholders, private-sector partners and employees. Recommendations will be presented to Hancock early next year.

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"Cities like Denver have borne the brunt of the country's growing income inequality challenges due to the lack of federal leadership and Congressional inaction to address it," the press release states.

"I'm committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from the unprecedented prosperity our city is enjoying today so that no one gets left behind," Hancock stated.


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