- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The minimum wage in St. Louis would rise to $11 per hour by 2018 under a measure approved Friday.

The bill, which the St. Louis’ Board of Alderman passed and Mayor Francis Slay later signed, was a compromise. An earlier proposal sought to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2020.

St. Louis joins several other major U.S. cities in setting its own wage minimum. The federal rate is $7.25. Missouri’s minimum wage is $7.65.

The vote on the issue met an important deadline. In July, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have blocked cities from raising the minimum wage beyond the state’s level. Lawmakers could override Nixon’s veto during a special September session.

But a provision of the bill states that it does not override any local minimum wage ordinance requirements already in effect as of Friday. The first increase to $8.25 an hour would not begin until Oct. 15, then it would rise to $9 on Jan. 1, 2016, $10 an hour in 2017, and $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018.

Slay had endorsed a higher minimum wage and believes tens of thousands of St. Louis residents would benefit. Opponents contended it could drive out businesses unable or unwilling to pay the higher wage.

“It is just not right that a parent working full time for the minimum wage has to raise his or her children in poverty,” Slay said in a statement after signing the measure.

Alderman Shane Cohn, the measure’s chief architect, has said the increase “is for anyone trying to survive,” and called it not only an economic necessity but “a moral imperative.”

But Alderman Stephen Conway, who is chief financial officer of the St. Louis-based Imo’s Pizza chain, countered that raising the minimum wage could drive businesses out of the city and into St. Louis County, which has declined to adopt its own minimum wage.

Slay, Cohn and Conway all are Democrats.

Twenty-nine states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25, and several cities have set their own minimums. Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, California, all have begun phasing in a minimum wage that will hit $15 per hour within the next few years. A regulatory board in New York last month raised the minimum to $15 for fast food workers.

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