A job seeker reads a book as he waits to use a phone at the Richmond Works One Stop Career Center in Richmond, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A San Francisco Bay Area city is set to have the highest minimum wage in the state.
The Richmond City Council voted this week to raise the city's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018, the Contra Costa Times reported Wednesday.
That would be a little more than $2 higher than San Francisco's current minimum wage, which is currently the state's highest, according to the newspaper. The state minimum wage, which is currently $8, will rise to $10 an hour in 2016, though a pending bill would also raise it to $13 an hour.
The Richmond measure exempts businesses that pay less than 800 hours of employee wages over a two-week period from the $13 wage. They would pay the state minimum wage.
It also allows businesses that get more than 50 percent of their income from transactions where the point of sale is outside the city to pay an intermediate wage between the city's minimum wage and the state minimum wage.
Supporters said the exceptions were needed to ensure businesses did not leave the city.
``The argument that we should do it simply is simply wrong,'' said Councilman Jim Rogers, who pushed for the exemptions. ``Businesses have said they will leave.''
Opponents, including Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, called the exemptions unfair and said they would create confusion.
Richmond's minimum wage hike would be phased in over several years, rising to $9.60 in January, $11.52 in 2016, $12.30 in 2017 and then $13 in 2018. The wage would be pegged to inflation after that.
Richmond's poverty rate was above the state average from 2008 to 2012, according to the most recent census data.
The minimum wage measure is expected to pass a second and final reading later in June.
In Washington state, the city of Seattle has approved an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the highest in the nation. The ordinance would take effect April 1, 2015, but would be phased in over several years.