NEW YORK, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans Wednesday to raise the city's minimum wage for public workers to $15 per hour within the next three years.
The pledge affects about 50,000 city employees who are presently making as little as $11.50 per hour.
"We know that nothing will do more to lift up working families and move our economy forward than raising wages -- and the city is leading by example by doing just that for 50,000 New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "From pre-K and affordable housing, to paid sick and parental leave, we are taking real action for working New Yorkers."
New York City is one of the first major American cities to substantially raise its minimum wage amid a growing national movement. Last year, a city panel recommended a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour for New York City fast food employees.
Wednesday's announcement is part of de Blasio's "OneNYC" goal to lift 800,000 city residents out of poverty over the next decade. It follows a pledge from the mayor last month to provide six weeks of paid parental leave to 20,000 unrepresented managerial and original jurisdiction employees, allow employees to take up to 12 weeks, and negotiate the same benefits with city unions.
De Blasio's plan will raise the minimum wage to the $12 per hour range by the end of this year and $13.50 by the end of 2017 before it reaches $15 by Dec. 31, 2018. The total cost of the increased wages for New York City is estimated to be just under $240 million through fiscal year 2020, the mayor's office said.
"Mayor Bill de Blasio's action today is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do," U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Wednesday. "While Republicans in Congress continue to stand in the way of giving millions of Americans a raise, President Obama and I will continue to support city and state officials across the country who act to create shared prosperity for all workers."
Opponents to hiked minimum wages have argued that paying employees more might lead to the unintended consequence of some small businesses laying off workers to offset the added cost.