City Weighs Minimum Wage Of $12.30, Among Nation's Highest
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[April 02, 2014]
By Laila Kearney
RICHMOND, California (Reuters) — A
California city in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area postponed a vote on
Tuesday to raise its minimum wage to $12.30, which if passed would be
among the highest municipal "living wage" rates in the United States.
The proposal before the city council in Richmond, an industrial
city of about 100,000 people east of San Francisco, comes as
Democratic politicians across the United States are raising concerns
about the growing gap between the poorest and richest Americans.
The wage hike would increase wages gradually from $8 to $9 an hour
by the end of 2014 and to $9.60 in 2015. The $12.30 wage would be
fully phased in by 2017.
The measure got preliminary approval by the city council two weeks
ago. It had been scheduled for a final vote on Tuesday, but the
council never got to that item on its agenda. The vote was postponed
until April 15.
The higher wage would apply to most workers in the city, although it
would exempt businesses with fewer than 10 employees. It would also
exempt the city's youth summer employment and Welfare-to-Work
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said in a statement filed with the
city that the wage increase would "help workers and their families
avoid poverty and economic hardship and enable them to meet basic
Advocates argue that raising the minimum wage would stimulate the
economy, since low-income people spend a higher percentage of their
income. Opponents contend that it could slow hiring at a time when
the U.S. economy is still facing high unemployment.
President Barack Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal
minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from $7.25, after nearly half of all
states and the District of Columbia raised theirs. Obama's call has
failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of
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A move by Connecticut last month to raise its minimum wage to $10.10
by 2017, the highest state rate in the nation, has added to momentum
on the matter. So did a move by a Seattle suburb to raise its
minimum wage for travel and hospitality workers to $15 an hour last
If the Richmond ordinance passes, its minimum wage would be higher
than nearby San Francisco's minimum entry pay, $10.74.
The ordinance would require employers to post notices of the wage
hikes in their establishments and provide payroll records to the
city if investigated for possible wage violations.
At last month's Richmond City Council meeting, most attendees backed
raising the minimum wage. But several business owners and residents
said they were concerned a wage hike would force businesses to move
out of Richmond, limit jobs and drive up the cost of goods and
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Alex Dobuzinskis;
editing by Larry
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