STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The state of Colorado is about to become the first state ever to reduce its minimum wage. That's because in 2006 voters in Colorado tied the minimum wage to inflation. They're seeing the impact now that the recession has lowered the cost of living.
NPR's Jeff Brady reports.
JEFF BRADY: Lower gas prices are the main reason's Colorado's Consumer Price Index declined slightly last year. After a hearing this morning, the state's Department of Labor and Employment is expected to reduce the state's minimum wage three cents, from $7.28 an hour to the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Mike McCardell with the Employment Department says the unusual move has not prompted much controversy.
Mr. MIKE MCCARDELL (Employment Department): Because most agree that this was required by the constitution and we're merely following through with what the voters asked us to do.
BRADY: Even the coalition of unions and progressive groups that put the issue before voters in 2006 say the minimum wage cut is appropriate. Still, they're pleased that few employers are planning to reduce wages for the estimated 50 to 70,000 workers who earn the minimum in Colorado.
Lorrie Ray is an attorney with the Mountain States Employers Council. She says saving three cents an hour just won't be worth it for most businesses.
Ms. LORRIE RAY (Attorney): We're not going to be in a downturn forever, and what you want is productive, happy employees. And if you cheat them out of $1.20 a week, they may not stay around that long.
BRADY: The new minimum wage in Colorado takes effect January 1st.
Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.
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