Prince George’s County voted on Wednesday to join Montgomery County in dramatically raising the minimum wage, approving a measure that would increase the hourly rate to $11.50 by 2017 from the current $7.25.

The current state and federal minimum is $7.25 an hour, roughly $15,000 annually for a full-time worker, placing the minimum wage employee below the poverty line.

The current minimum wage has not been raised since 2009 and consistently falls below the rate of inflation. The council’s bill, CB-94, will gradually increase the county’s minimum wage to $11.50 by Oct. 1, 2017.

“I want to thank my colleagues for their support of CB-94 throughout this legislative process,” Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison (D-District 5) said in a press release. “I also want to thank our citizens and county businesses for participating in this process. With this action, the Prince George’s County Council has taken concrete steps to ensure disadvantaged workers can make ends meet and improve the quality of their lives. We can take pride in this achievement, a sound policy decision that also helps to build a better local economy for all of our residents.”

The council’s action is part of a collaboration among three jurisdictions, Prince George’s County, Md., Montgomery County, Md., and Washington D.C. to establish a “regional minimum wage” that is fair to both employers and employees.

Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin was present to witness the Prince George’s County Council vote.

Council Chair Harrison said passing local legislation to raise the minimum wage has been a team effort.

“I want to thank Montgomery County Council Members Marc Elrich and Valerie Ervin, and their colleagues, as well as D.C. City Council Chair Phil Mendelson for their leadership, partnership and persistence on this issue,” Harrsion said. “Working separately can place any single jurisdiction in jeopardy of a competitive disadvantage, so we appreciate the opportunity to work together with our neighbors in this historic regional commitment to working families. We are uniting to build a more sustainable economic recovery that serves all of our residents, including the poor and the working poor.”

Council Bill 94 received unanimous support from the Council’s Public Safety and Fiscal Management on Oct. 17. Final Council action on CB-94 was deferred on Nov. 19 in anticipation of the Montgomery County Council’s vote on Council Bill 27-13, which was also successfully adopted on Nov. 26.

Amendments to the original version of CB-94 brings the legislation more in line with the amended measure enacted by the Montgomery County Council. A vote by the D.C. City Council on the issue is set for Dec. 3.

Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer