By 2016, the nation’s capitol will have raised its minimum working wage to $11.50 an hour. The move was formally approved today by the city council, though they had previously established unanimous support for the measure. The bill, ensuring the $3.25 raise from the current $8.50, awaits now only the signature of Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray, before it becomes law.
Gray, who vetoed a similar bill back in September which sought an increase to $12.50, is not expected to oppose this new proposal for a living wage increase. Similar efforts throughout the immediate area have already enacted similar legislation, with Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties both going to $11.50 by 2017. In the previous vote, the council passed the resolution, but did so one vote short of the necessary nine votes to override a mayoral veto.
Gray and others who opposed the increase in September endured a substantial backlash from supporters and through certain media outlets after coming out against it. Citing that he believed it would endanger possible retail and commercial growth in the city, Gray was accused of “siding with Walmart,” who at the time dangled the possibility of opening six new stores in the city, but threatened to cancel the plan if the wage increase went though.
The hike comes amid a growing backlash by a continually struggling working class, who having seen huge swaths of the labor sector either outsourced or downsized at the behest of growth obsessed managers and corporate executives, and are finding menial, low wage, low skill jobs the most readily, and sometimes only jobs available.
Analysts and economists will assuredly be watching close to see if the sky should fall or the economies should erupt in fire as many pro-market, anti-worker pundits often assure the public would happen under a minimum wage increase. But for the time being the lowest paid workers in DC have something to look forward to as their cities move to bring them a little further up to speed with the ever-increasing cost of living in our nation’s capitol.