WASHINGTON Dec 17 Washington's city council on
Tuesday approved raising the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, one
of the highest rates among U.S. cities and part of the wealthy
region's push to hike base pay.
The minimum wage in the U.S. capital would rise in 2016 from
the current $8.25, and then be indexed for inflation. The
council gave unanimous final approval to the measure, which it
first passed two weeks ago.
Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray has opposed the measure,
saying it was not known how it would affect the labor market,
and urged an increase to $10 an hour instead. The unanimous vote
means the council could pass it over Gray's veto.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The District of
Columbia Chamber of Commerce has called for raising the minimum
wage to $10 over three years and then indexing it to inflation.
The council coordinated raising the base wage with lawmakers
in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, in Washington's
Maryland suburbs. They approved similar measures last month.
Once the higher pay takes effect, the three jurisdictions
would form a region with 2.5 million residents and a minimum
wage higher than any of the 50 states. Virginia, which borders
Washington, requires employers to pay the federal rate.
Washington state has the highest hourly minimum wage among
U.S. states at $9.19 an hour. Among city workers, those in
Sonoma, California, enjoy the highest rate, at $15.38 an hour.
Gray had vetoed a bill this fall that would have required
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other big retailers to pay a 50
percent premium over the city's current minimum wage.
The pay hike comes after fast-food workers went on strike
this month across the United States as part of a campaign to
raise pay to $15 an hour.
The city council voted as the region emerges relatively
unscathed from the recession and with the capital's economy and
The Census Bureau reported last week that eight of the 13
U.S. counties with the highest median income last year were in
the Washington area.