Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

$15-per-Hour Wages Go to Washington: What's Next?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

$15-per-Hour Wages Go to Washington: What's Next?

Article excerpt

The District of Columbia has approved a measure to raise its official minimum wage to $15 per hour, a possible solution increasingly cited for the stagnation of wages in low-paying jobs.

The Fight for $15 movement's controversial solution for income inequality has rallied fast-food, home care, and retail workers to protests around the country and successfully convinced a number of cities and states around the country to adopt the experiment.

The city council of Washington, D.C., voted unanimously to join in, passing a measure on Tuesday to move the district's minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2020. The final vote is set for later in June, but Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has already promised to sign the bill.

"Raising the minimum wage will help address the issues of residents being pushed out of the District due to rising costs of living and income inequality," said co-sponsor Councilmember Vincent Orange in a hearing.

Mr. Orange and other supporters of the bill - including unions - said the district's rapid growth and healthy economy make a swift move economically viable. The district's current minimum hourly wage is $10.50, up from the federal minimum of $7.25, but it will rise by a full dollar as of July 1. Increases tied to inflation are planned after the $15 goal is reached.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which supports such initiatives, estimated the bill would increase the income of 114,000 workers and one-fifth of the district's private sector.

"Once the minimum wage reaches $15, the average affected worker would earn roughly $2,900 more each year than she does today," according to an EPI report by David Cooper.

Some councilmembers worried this wage increase is too shallow, while others outside the council worried it had gone too far. The district's Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure, saying it should wait until the network of suburbs surrounding the nation's capitol mirror the move. …

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