D.C. Votes to Boost Minimum Wage

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Rate Would Rise to $11.50 an Hour by 2016, if Measure Becomes Law.

The District of Columbia Council voted unanimously Tuesday to gradually raise the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $11.50 by 2016 and index it to inflation afterward. The move was coordinated with two neighboring Maryland counties, which adopted similar measures last week.

A final vote by the D.C. Council is expected by early January, said Council Chairman Vincent Orange, who championed the increase. The unanimous passage Tuesday suggests the second vote will be largely a formality and would withstand any potential mayoral veto.

Mayor Vincent Gray, who had proposed a $10-an-hour minimum wage—the same level advocated by the DC Chamber of Commerce—will wait for the final bill before deciding whether to sign it, said Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. The mayor’s office is also waiting for the release of a study on, among other things, the merits of automatic annual minimum-wage increases and the potential effect on low-income residents.

“I think $11.50 is too high, given Virginia is still at $7.25,” said DC Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Barbara Lang. She said she wasn’t surprised by the vote, but added that some small businesses already have said they would have to lay off an employee or two, especially as they grapple with expenses like the District’s high real-estate costs and the new health law.

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