The Montgomery County Council voted overwhelmingly to establish the county’s own minimum wage Tuesday, approving a historic increase that will lift the hourly rate to $11.50 by 2017 — far above the current state and federal minimum of $7.25.
The council’s action, which followed nearly four hours of tense and occasionally acrimonious debate, is the leading edge of an unusual regional effort by Montgomery, Prince George’s County and the District to raise the wage. The Prince George’s County Council is expected to vote Wednesday, and an initial vote by the D.C. Council is set for Dec. 3.
It is also part of a national movement by state and local governments to address growing wage inequality where Congress has not. The federal minimum has not been raised in four years. New Jersey, California and New York have all approved minimum wage increases this year.
The Montgomery bill increases the wage in annual steps to $8.40 in October 2014, $9.55 in 2015, $10.75 in 2016 and $11.50 in 2017.