The Duluth City Council plans to vote tonight on a resolution calling for an increase to the state's minimum wage. If passed, Duluth would become the first city in the state to back a higher wage.
The resolution calls on the Legislature to increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2015, along with future automatic increases to keep up with inflation.
The higher wage would help shrink the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, said Duluth Mayor Don Ness. "This is one productive and constructive step towards making work pay."
Census data indicates nearly 9,000 Duluth residents would benefit from the move, said council member Sharla Gardner. "When you give people who are poor and struggling more money, they spend it, they put it right back into the economy. And our city is going to do better as a result."
Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils also plan to vote on a similar resolution. It's part of a broader effort spearheaded by labor unions and others to build statewide support for a minimum wage increase.
Opponents argue it will create competitive disadvantages for Minnesota businesses and increase prices for consumers.
Minnesota's minimum wage is currently set at $6.15, although the federal rate of $7.25 applies in nearly all cases.
The Minnesota House passed a $9.50 measure last year but couldn't reach a compromise with the state Senate, which passed a $7.75 measure.