By a vote of the city council yesterday, the city of Emeryville, Calif., has opted to enforce a $16-an-hour minimum wage, effective in 2019, which to date is the highest level enacted by any municipality in the nation.

The council voted unanimously to start the phase-in by raising the minimum wage to $14.44 an hour on July 1 for large businesses, and to $12.25 an hour for small businesses.

Large businesses are defined as those with more than 55 employees; their minimum wage mandate will rise each July 1 according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), then reach $16 an hour in 2019.

Small businesses will see their wage rates rise to $13 an hour on July 1, 2016, then to $14 in 2017, $15 in 2018, and $16 in 2019.

“People who work 40 hours a week should not have to be eligible for any public assistance,” said Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin during the council discussion.

Nearby Oakland will incrementally raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 1, 2018, thereafter tying it to the CPI.

The California state minimum wage will max out at $10 an hour this coming Jan. 1 unless a new law is enacted.

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