WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The District of Columbia could raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by mid-2020 under a ballot initiative cleared this week, making it the latest U.S. city to consider raising base pay for hourly workers.
Washington's elections board on Wednesday allowed backers to start a petition drive that could put the $15-an-hour minimum wage on the November 2016 ballot.
If approved, the hike would raise Washington's minimum wage to above that of any other city on the East Coast. The U.S. capital's hourly base pay is $10.50 and is set to rise to $11.50 next year.
The ballot proposal calls for the minimum hourly wage to rise to $12.50 in July 2017 and to $15 three years later. It then would increase in line with inflation.
With the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour since 2009,
labor and religious groups have pressed state and local
governments to enact pay raises as their hopes dim for a nationwide increase by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.
Last month, Los Angeles said it would increase the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020. Seattle and San Francisco also have increased minimum wages in recent years.
A New York state panel on Wednesday moved to raise the base pay for fast-food workers to $15 an hour.
The District of Columbia proposal has drawn fire from some business groups who contend it could cut into profits and lead to layoffs. Advocates for the hike cite rising costs and the need for a more livable wage.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Susan Heavey)