Los Angeles city council approves minimum wage hike

Current $9 wage will rise to $15 by 2020

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave final approval to an ordinance raising the minimum wage in America's second-largest city to US$15 an hour by 2020 from the current US$9.

The measure, which still must be signed into law by Mayor

Eric Garcetti, would require businesses with more than 25 employees to gradually increase wages to meet a US$15 hourly pay level by 2020, while smaller businesses would have an extra year to comply with each step.

Garcetti, a Democrat, has said that he would sign the wage hike into law, seen as a victory for labor and community groups that have successfully pushed for similar pay hikes in other major U.S. cities, including Seattleand San Francisco.

"Today is a great day for Los Angeles and all the people who work hard to make our city a vibrant place to live and work," Rusty Hicks of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor said in a written statement issued after the vote.

"After months of public debate and study, the City Council's vote puts us one step away from changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Angelenos," he said. "Though there is still work to be done, all of us in Los Angeles will see the fruits of raising the wage in L.A.”

Opponents of minimum wage hikes say they place an undue burden on businesses and will force employers to lay off workers or move.

With the federal minimum wage stagnant at US$7.25 an hour since 2009, supporters of raising pay for the lowest paid workers have expressed little hope for an increase from the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

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