US & Canada

California set to raise minimum wage 25% by 2016

California Gov Jerry Brown in Sacramento, California on 29 May 2013
Image caption California Governor Jerry Brown supports the minimum wage bill

The state of California is set to raise its minimum wage to $10 (£6.33) an hour, among the highest in the US.

Legislation expected soon to reach Governor Jerry Brown's desk will gradually raise the current minimum of $8 an hour 25% by 2016.

The measure was opposed by some business owners who warned it would force them to reduce hiring.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, although 19 states and Washington DC have a higher minimum.

The Democrat-control state Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote on Thursday. The state Assembly, which had already passed a separate version, will vote on the Senate's version, a procedure analysts described as a mere formality.

Mr Brown, who supports the bill, has said the minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs in California, which is the largest state by population in the US.

"This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy," he said on Wednesday.

But some business leaders warned the higher wage would hamper their ability to operate and force them to cut back working hours and put off hiring.

The California Restaurant Association called the proposal a "back breaker".

"A 25% increase in labor costs will result in fewer job opportunities for Californians looking to get back on their feet," the group said on its website.

The bill's approval comes amid a growing strike campaign by fast-food workers in dozens of US cities in demand of higher wages.

President Barack Obama and some in Congress have advocated raising the US minimum wage, as the nation's income gap continues to widen.

Recent data indicates the top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income in 2012.

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