D.C. Council votes to raise minimum wage to $15

The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to raise minimum wage in the District to $15, the Washington Post reported. Mayor Muriel Bowser pledged to sign the measure into law.

The measure passed on Tuesday will increase the minimum wage, which is $10.50, by 70 cents each year until it reaches $15 in 2020. Then the wage will increase automatically based on inflation. A similar plan will apply to wages for tipped workers, raising them from $2.77 to $5.

The D.C. Council’s action is waiting for confirmation from a final vote. The Post reported that the move “appeared to forestall” a November ballot measure that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 for both low-wage and tipped workers.

This move will put D.C. in line with New York and California, states that are already serving as models for the “Fight for $15” campaign led by unions across the country. The movement began with a push by fast-food workers a few years ago, the Post reported.

Lawmakers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey are also currently considering raising the wage to $15, according to the Post.

Advocates for a higher minimum wage, who polls show are mostly Democrats, say that the $15 standard will combat income inequality. Federal data shows that D.C. has the largest income gap compared to every other state, according to the Post.

Bowser said Tuesday that high cost of living in D.C. makes it difficult for people to support themselves and their families on the current minimum wage.

“When I see how much it costs to live in Washington, D.C. — and that cost is only going up — we know that it takes more money for every household to be able to afford to live,” Bowser said. “There are families working day in and day out, sometimes two or three jobs but barely making ends meet.”

Critics of the higher wage, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, say that the higher labor costs will drive businesses out of the District.

Ryan said Tuesday that the decision would price entry-level jobs away from people, and “do more harm than good.”

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