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On Tuesday (May 19) Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to gradually raise minimum wage from $9 to $15 per hour by the year 2020. While the federal minimum wage rate is still hovering near $8.00, the 14-1 city council vote makes Los Angeles the largest major American city to embrace the wage hike behind San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, and Seattle.

Reports the Los Angeles Times:

The vote was the latest show of organized labor’s clout at City Hall. During nearly a year of often emotional debate, labor leaders never gave ground on their central demand that the minimum wage rise to at least $15. The City Council ultimately favored that approach over Garcetti’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017.

The council’s decision is part of a broader national effort to alleviate poverty, said Maria Elena Durazo, former head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Raising the wage in L.A., she said, will help spur similar increases in other parts of the country.

Some labor leaders have expressed dissatisfaction with the gradual timeline elected leaders set for raising base wages. But on Tuesday the harshest criticism of the law came from business groups, which warned lawmakers that the mandate would force employers to lay off workers or leave the city altogether.

“The very people [council members’] rhetoric claims to help with this action, it’s going to hurt,” said Ruben Gonzalez, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for public policy and political affairs.

He predicted that many businesses would absorb their new labor costs by laying off employees, reducing work hours or moving out of the city entirely.

The hike will affect some 800,000 workers, but the amount isn’t enough for a family to survive comfortably in Los Angeles County. According to economic statistics, the living wage for a family of four (with one adult working) is $24.06 per hour, and the poverty wage is $11 an hour, two dollars above the current minimum wage.

Photo: screenshot