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This U.S. city is about to have the highest minimum wage in the world

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Seattle has some of the world's most connected citizens. Now, it's about to have the world's highest paid minimum wage workers. 

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Thursday a plan to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour, the highest of any major city in the nation—and the world.  

According to a Bloomberg ranking, Luxembourg has the highest real hourly minimum wage of $10.66, followed by France, Australia, Belgium and Netherlands. Later this month, Switzerland will vote in a national referendum on whether to establish a minimum wage of $25 per hour.

In his announcement, Murray said: 
"Seattle workers are getting a raise. Throughout this process, I’ve had two goals: to get Seattle’s low-wage workers to $15-per-hour while also supporting our employers, and to avoid a costly battle at the ballot box between competing initiatives. We have a deal that I believe accomplishes both goals.”
The wage increase would be phased in over time. Small businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees, will have seven years to hit the $15 an hour minimum. Within the first five years, small businesses would have to meet a temporary compensation responsibility of $15 per hour, which can be achieved by combining employer-paid health care contributions, consumer-paid tips and employer-paid wages. 

Businesses that employ more than 500 workers will have three years to reach the minimum wage. Once the $15 per hour wage is reached, future increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index. 

Fast food workers across the U.S. have pushed for a higher minimum wage. Last year, workers held protests in 60 U.S. cities including Seattle to demand a minimum wage of $15 per hour and protection against potential employer retaliation after joining a union.

The argument against wage hikes like this one, is that it will hurt small businesses and drive major corporations away. The mayor of Seattle, home to companies like Microsoft and Amazon, appears to have worked through those concerns—at least with his Income Inequality Advisory Committee. The group, which is made up of Seattle's employer, labor and non-profit communities, voted 21 to 24 in favor of the wage hike. 

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Thumbnail image: Flickr user Joe Wolf

— By on May 2, 2014, 6:41 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure