Minneapolis City Council members approved a $15 minimum wage on Friday, a change officials estimate will impact 71,000 low-wage workers.

The wage will increase annually for five years for big businesses and for seven years for businesses of 100 employees or fewer. The minimum wage will be fully implemented July 2024, according to Council Member Cam Gordon.

State, federal, county, school-district and University of Minnesota employees will be exempt. Youth employment or apprenticeship programs are partially exempt for the first 90 days of employment for workers under age 21.

Eleven council members voted in favor, one voted against, and one was absent.

“I think this is something that we can do to help grow a more just, local economy,” Gordon said. “I understand that there are some fears and concerns, and I think now it’s going to be our responsibility to go out and demonstrate how this can work for small businesses and everybody.”

Gordon said he hoped St. Paul and other nearby areas would follow suit.

St. Paul City Council Member Dai Thao said he supports the Minneapolis decision, but St. Paul needs a conversation of their own before proceeding with similar legislation.

“We want residents to have access to good-paying jobs so they can put food on the table, but I think with St. Paul there’s still more work to do and more data to look at,” Thao said. “We need to have our own process so that it works for all of us.”

Minneapolis joins about a dozen other cities across the country to approve a $15 minimum wage.

The effort capped off years of campaigning for the wage hike by activists.

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