Colorado among 14 states to increase minimum wage

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.-- On January 1, Colorado was among 14 states to increase minimum wage to $8.31. That is eight cents more than last year and for many people, that can make a huge difference.

Christine Gillispie, a barista at Traders Coffee & Tea in Grand Junction, said she makes slightly over the minimum wage. She added that she would be able to provide for herself instead of getting help from her parents if she was making about $14 to $15 an hour.

"My parents pay for my car insurance and my cell phone and they help me with my rent so that I can afford my own food,” she said.

But not everyone wants to see the minimum wage increase.

"Get yourself some skills. You don't have to go to college. You can go to technical schools," said Robert Helmer, the owner of Alida’s Fruits in Grand Junction.

Helmer said he pays his employees above minimum wage, as he believes minimum wage is for employees that are starting out in life. He also thinks that people who want to get paid more need to gain experience first.

Gillispie recently graduated from Colorado State University where she majored in journalism and minored in business. She thinks that every person who is unskilled needs to be given the opportunity to become a skilled employee.

"I know that it's really expensive to hire and train, but once you have those people on, you have a loyal staff. And I think that loyal staff kind of makes up for the money that you’re paying to train them," Gillispie said.

The state constitution mandates that the minimum wage be automatically adjusted for inflation each year. While the increase helps employees to better provide for their families, Helmer said the increase can also hurt companies because it raises the price of products.

"You will see an increase in price, you will see inflation when minimum wage goes up. It always has. I've watched it for 75 years," Helmer said.

In November 2015, there were several protests from low wage workers and supporters for a $15 an hour minimum wage in the U.S. The highest minimum wage is $10.50 in Washington, D.C.

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