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Los Angeles City Council approves $15 minimum wage

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave its tentative approval to an ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

But a third and final vote was scheduled for next Wednesday because the latest tally of 13-1 was not unanimous.

"With this vote, the minimum wage will no longer be a poverty wage in Los Angeles," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that comes two weeks after a 14-1 preliminary vote on measure.

The vote was applauded in a statement by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent running for president: "States and communities are not waiting for Congress to act because working people cannot survive on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If people work 40 hours a week, they deserve not to live in dire poverty."

The vote would more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25, with increases starting with an hourly wage of $10.50 in July 2016, followed by annual increases to $12, $13.25, $14.25 and then $15. Small businesses and nonprofits would be a year behind.

Seattle and San Francisco recently passed laws to reach the same minimum wage over several years, and Chicago passed one last year that plateaus at $13.

Earlier this week, the California Senate approved a plan to again raise the statewide minimum wage, lifting it to $13 an hour in 2017 and tying it to the rate of inflation after that.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he also wants to boost his city's lowest hourly pay to $15.

Calls for raising the minimum wage at the national, state and local levels have built as the nation struggles with fallout from the recession, worsening income inequality, persistent poverty and the challenges of immigration and the global economy.

But even the backers of the plan acknowledge it's an experiment, with only patchy data on whether it hurts or helps economies at the city level.