The Los Angeles City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to raising minimum pay in the nation’s second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020, a closely watched step as Americans’ wages have stagnated.
The council voted 14-1 after residents made impassioned statements for and against the plan.
“Today, help is on the way for the one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement, adding that “the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.”
The vote sends the measure to the city attorney to prepare a wage ordinance. That ordinance will then go to a council committee and, assuming it passes, to the full council for a final vote and then to Garcetti.
The increases would begin with a wage of $10.50 in July 2016, followed by annual increases to $12, $13.25, $14.25 and then $15. Small businesses and nonprofits would be a year behind. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees to have an additional year to reach the $15 plateau.
Council members noted that Los Angeles has 700,000 people earning minimum wage and one of the highest housing costs in the nation. California minimum wage is $9.
“The elephant in the room is the lack of affordable housing,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said before the vote.
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