SEATTLE The Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a hike in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, to be phased in over the next seven years.
Under the terms of the plan, businesses with fewer than 500 workers must raise wages to a minimum of $15 per hour over the next seven years.
Larger businesses or franchises must meet that level within three years, or four if they provide health insurance. The current minimum wage in Seattle is $9.32 per hour.
Seattle suburb SeaTac last year approved an initiative enacting a $15 minimum wage for many workers, although airport employees were later excluded.
President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25, but has failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
The long lead-in time for implementation of the Seattle wage measure appears in part to be a compromise to placate businesses that had wanted to count tips and employer contributions for healthcare benefits toward the wage target.
(Reporting by Jimmy Lovaas; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jim Loney)