7 More Cities That Want to Raise the Minimum Wage
In May 2015, the Los Angeles City Council voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. That move followed successful efforts in Seattle and San Francisco to eventually boost wages for all workers to at least $15 an hour. Several other cities also have a minimum wage that is significantly above the federally mandated $7.25 an hour, including Chicago and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Similar efforts in other U.S. cities are also gaining steam, despite disagreement about whether requiring employers to pay workers more is good for the economy. Warren Buffett, in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, argued that mandating a $15 per hour wage “would almost certainly reduce employment in a major way, crushing many workers possessing only basic skills.” He proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to lift more workers out of poverty.
Proponents of wage increases say that they’re essential to allowing the most vulnerable workers to cover basic living expenses, especially considering that that the federal minimum wage has not increased since 2009. “We’re leading the country; we’re not going to wait for Washington to lift Americans out of poverty,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti told The New York Times. “We have too many adults struggling to be living off a poverty wage. This will re-establish some of the equilibrium we’ve had in the past.”
Many Americans seem to agree. A 2015 poll conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the National Employment Law Project (which advocates for increasing the minimum wage) found that 75% of people supported increasing the minimum wage to at least $12.50 an hour.
Given the broad support for a higher minimum wage, it’s hardly surprising that many other cities are taking action to make sure that workers will get paid more. Here are seven more cities where the minimum wage may soon be going up.
1. New York
New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the country, but minimum wage workers earn just $8.75 an hour. When adjusted for cost of living, minimum wage workers in the Big Apple earn less than workers in any other city, the New York City Comptroller’s office found.
Mayor Bill DeBlasio wants to raise the minimum wage to at least $13 an hour, but he needs to get approval from the state legislature before he can do so. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to raise the state-wide minimum wage to $10.50, and the New York City wage to $11.50 an hour.
2. Washington D.C.
Activists in the nation’s capital are campaigning to get a minimum wage referendum on the ballot in 2016, the Washington Post reported. The goal is to boost the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and also eliminate the separate minimum wage for tipped workers, who are currently paid $2.77 an hour.
The city already has a relatively high minimum wage compared to the rest of the country. Currently, employers must pay most workers at least $9.50 an hour. That’s set to increase to $10.50 an hour on July 1, 2015, and $11.50 an hour on July 1, 2016.
3. San Diego
In 2014, the San Diego City Council voted to gradually increase the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by 2017, over the objections of the mayor, Republican Kevin Faulconer. The increase was set to take effect in January 2015, but local business leaders, who are opposed to the pay hike, gathered enough signatures to put the issue to the voters directly. For now, the wage hike has been put on hold until voters go to the polls in June 2016.
4. Louisville, Ky.
In late 2014, Louisville became the first city in the south to raise its minimum wage above $7.25 an hour. Workers in the Kentucky city will earn at least $9 an hour by July 2017, but only if a lawsuit filed by members of the business community is unsuccessful. Opponents of the increase are arguing that lawmakers didn’t have the authority to boost the wage.
5. Tacoma, Wash.
Seattle has already passed a law that will eventually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and now labor activists in nearby Tacoma hope to do the same. Supporters of the increase have gathered thousands of signatures in order to put the issue on the ballot in November 2015. If approved, the minimum wage in the city would immediately increase to $15 an hour.
A poll conducted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which opposes the increase, found that fewer than half of people supported moving the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
6. Kansas City, Mo.
Activists in Kansas City, Mo., gathered more than 4,000 signatures in the hopes of getting a minimum wage increase measure on the August 2015 ballot. Supporters hoped to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The city council decided to hold off on putting the matter directly to voters, however. Instead, the council and the mayor say they plan to take separate action to increase the city’s minimum wage, probably by July 2015, the Kansas City Star reported.
7. Portland, Maine
Both activists and politicians in Portland agree that increasing the minimum wage is a good idea, though they disagree on how much it should go up. A city council committee recently approved a plan to increase the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour on July 1, 2015, with further increases to follow. The entire city council still needs to approve the increase, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Labor groups in the city are pushing for a much more dramatic increase to $15 an hour. They are currently gathering signatures in support of the measure with the hope that it will be included on the November 2015 ballot.
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