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How Denver's raise in minimum wage could affect local businesses and employees

How Denver's raise in minimum wage could affect local businesses and employees
How Denver's raise in minimum wage could affect local businesses and employees 02:00

Denver's minimum wage workers were greeted with a pay bump to start the new year.

That's good news for those employees, but it could be a difficult 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 seeing the effects is Mary Lovett of Maggie and Molly's Sweet Life bakery in Cherry Creek. 

Lovett is now changing her menu prices to keep up with the city's new rules.

"I've been trying to figure out what the best prices are and then comparing to other bakeries in cities and other caterers," Lovett said.


It's been six years since she last changed her prices, but Denver's new minimum wage is forcing her to modify prices to retain her five employees.

"It is something I believe in and it is something I voted for, but it always kind of knocks me back a little bit," Lovett said.

The new minimum wage in Denver went up nearly 9% from last year's.

Though, it's higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and the statewide wage of $13.65, it's still hard to survive in Denver for most, even with the new change.

But, it helps cookie decorator, baker and designer, Inga Wittgraf at Maggie and Molly's Sweet Life.

"It makes a huge difference, I think if I was getting paid what I got when I first started here, I would not have been able to stay here," Wittgraf said.


Wittgraf has been working at the shop for nearly four years.

In the last couple of years, she has seen her pay increase since the city's minimum wage ordinance passed back in 2019.

But even with the new wage hike, she still earns less than the area median income in Denver. What keeps her coming back is the job and environment.

"I like my boss, most of the customers are great and just fun than other jobs I've had," Wittgraf said.

To be able to keep up with the demand, inflation and her staff, Lovett looks to continue increasing prices until she's able to juggle the new changes.

"I will just keep looking at the prices to see where we make more money to keep the business going." Lovett said.

With the new city rules in place, Denver Labor, a team in the auditor's office that investigates and ensures companies pay, will be on the lookout for those businesses not following the rules.

Last year, the team recovered more than $1.1 million.

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