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Seattle to get highest minimum wage in the US

Municipal authorities in Seattle have approved the phasing in of the highest minimum wage across the United States. The deal was cheered by labor activists, but drew harsh criticism from business organizations.

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance to gradually increase the local minimum wage to $15 (11 euros). It would make it the highest in the US, with the federal minimum wage currently standing at just $7.25 and at $9.32 in Seattle itself as well as most other towns in Washington state.

The deal had dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months and came about after Mayor Ed Murray had promised to considerably raise the minimum wage in Seattle in his election campaign.

The Seattle Times reported the measure would take effect on April 1, 2015 and would entail phasing in the increase over several years.

Mixed response

It said the plan would give businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to implement the measure. Smaller firms would be given seven years to follow suit.

The deal was

cheered by fast-food workers and labor activists

who argued the hike was long overdue.

But many business owners denounced the scheme, saying it would force them to raise prices or cut into meager profit margins. The International Franchise Association, a Washington DC-based business group, said it planned to sue to stop the ordinance.

hg/ng (AP, dpa)

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