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Louisville, Ky., has taken the lead position in the South on the minimum wage debate.
The Louisville Metro Council voted on Dec. 18 to raise the minimum wage to at least $9 per hour by 2017. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. According to the Associated Press, the increase means workers earning the current minimum will get a 24 percent raise by 2017, and could earn $3,640 more per year before taxes if they work 40 hours per week.
Louisville now joins 20 other local governments across the United States that have increased the hourly wage.
"It is a balanced compromise solution that gives hardworking families a raise while minimizing the risks of job losses in our city," Mayor Greg Fischer said.
In Kentucky, Democrats in the state House of Representatives made it their top priority and Alison Lundergan Grimes made it a central part of her campaign for U.S. Senate against Republican Mitch McConnell, according to the report.
Grimes lost the election to McConnell and House Democrats failed to get their proposal past the Republican-controlled state Senate. But the issue found favor in Louisville, where Democrats control the Metro Council, the AP added.
The increase will happen over the course of three years, and will increase subsequently with the cost of inflation. Exempt employees include farm workers, waiters and others who work for tips, and employees of small businesses whose average gross sales are less than $95,000 per year.