SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council has approved an ordinance that would phase in the city's minimum wage to a top rate of $15 an hour, making it the highest in the nation.>
Here are five questions and answers about the ordinance.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM WAGE IN SEATTLE NOW?(Credit: AP / Ted S. Warren)
It is $9.32 an hour, the Washington state minimum wage, which is itself the highest minimum wage of any state. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
(Caption: Supporters of Seattle's $15 minimum wage measure break into applause, on June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed the measure, which will be phased in.)
WHEN WOULD SEATTLE'S WAGE GO UP?(Credit: AP / Ted S. Warren)
The measure, which will take effect on April 1, 2015, will be phased-in over several years. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.
(Caption: Caitlyn Faircloth, a worker with Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, hands out free cones on June 2, 2014, during a rally celebrating the passage of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle)
WHY SEATTLE?(Credit: AP / Ted S. Warren)
The minimum wage issue has dominated local politics for months. New Mayor Ed Murray campaigned this past fall on raising the minimum wage, and local voters elected a socialist candidate to the City Council who has also pushed aggressively for the increase. The ordinance came from recommendations made by an advisory group of labor, business and nonprofit groups convened by Murray.
(Caption: Seattle NAACP chapter president Gerald Hankerson blows a party noisemaker during a celebration rally on June 2, 2014.)
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?(Credit: AP / Ted S. Warren)
Some business owners complain the increase could lead them to cuts, and labor activists say the phased-in approach takes too long to get to $15 an hour. The goal of the Seattle mayor's advisory group was to avoid competing minimum wage ballot initiatives this fall.
(Caption: A flier celebrates the passage of a $15 minimum wage law by the Seattle City Council.)
WHAT'S GOING ON ELSEWHERE?(Credit: AP / Jordan Stead)
President Barack Obama supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Minnesota earlier this year raised the state's guaranteed wage by more than $3, to $9.50, by 2016. California, Connecticut and Maryland also have passed laws increasing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years.
(Caption: A supporter of the $15 minimum wage ordinance that passed June 2, 2014 in Seattle.)