The battle to raise the minimum wage moved forward as the Washington, D.C. city council voted unanimously to raise it to $11.50 an hour by 2016.
The vote came on Tuesday, after the council first passed the measure three weeks ago, and the bill is now on its way to Mayor Vincent Gray’s desk for his signature.
Gray has been opposed to an $11.50 minimum wage increase; however, a veto would almost certainly be overridden by the city council as the vote was unanimous.
The minimum wage in the nation’s capital is currently $8.25 an hour.
Gray, a Democrat, had suggested raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour instead of the $11.50, claiming it is unclear how such a hike will impact the labor place.
Lawmakers in Montgomery and Prince George counties, in nearby Maryland suburbs, passed similar measures last month, leading the way for D.C. to follow suit.
The region that comprises the three jurisdictions that will see the minimum wage increase to $11.50 is home to 2.5 million people, who will enjoy higher pay than any of the other 50 states.
Neighboring Virginia pays the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour, and some business owners don’t approve of the council’s decision.
Jim Dinegar, president and chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, told Reuters the $11.50 minimum wage would make D.C. and the region less attractive to business, especially considering Virginia pays a lower rate.
Earlier this year, Mayor Gray vetoed a bill that would have required some retailers, such as Walmart and Macy’s, to pay a $12.50 minimum “livable wage.”
Walmart followed by threatening to cancel plans to bring six stores into the district, and Gray was forced to back down.
The District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce has called for raising the minimum wage to $10 over three years, and then adjusting it for inflation.
The D.C. area was less affected by the recession than other parts of the country, and is experiencing an economic and population growth.
If the $11.50 minimum wage bill passes, it will be phased out over a two year period.