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$11.50 minimum wage? Unanimous wage increase approval ignites critics

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An $11.50 minimum wage approval is cause for celebration for many employees this week, although the wage increase won't go into effect until 2016. As reported by Reuters on Dec. 17, the $11.50 minimum wage was given the nod of approval by the D.C. Council Tuesday.

The $11.50 minimum wage represents a rare act of regional cooperation with the Maryland suburbs and it stands in stark contrast with the current $7.25 federal minimum wage, the Washington Post reports.

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The minimum wage increase applies to the US capital and it will increase in 2016 from the current $8.25, and then be indexed for inflation. The measure received unanimous final approval, which it first passed approximately two weeks ago.

Regarding the $11.50 minimum wage measure, David Harrington, president and CEO of the county chamber of commerce, said:

"Clearly there's a need for an increase, but what is the level to which businesses can still create jobs even while paying a higher wage."

"By coordinating with lawmakers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which approved similar measures last month, the council put the three localities on the cusp of creating a contiguous region with 2.5 million residents and a minimum wage higher than any of the 50 states. Virginia requires employers to pay the federal rate," The Washington Post writes.

"But with all 13 council members pledging their support, the final vote appeared to be a formality and likely wide enough to override a veto by Gray, who repeated Tuesday that he would prefer a smaller increase — to $10 an hour," the report concluded.

The $11.50 minimum wage hike comes just a short while after thousands of fast food restaurant employees participated in strikes that took place in over a hundred cities in which workers demanded a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the salaries of these workers are so low that 52 percent of workers in these businesses must turn to public assistance to make ends meet.

The conflict over the minimum wage was reflected in the recent opening of two Wal-Mart stores in Washington DC, where there was a heated debate.

Do you agree with the $11.50 minimum wage increase?

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