LOS ANGELES–The city of Los Angeles voted Tuesday to increase minimum wage from US$9 to US$15 an hour in a move that is expected to boost quality of life for hundreds of thousands of its residents. Officials will begin increasing minimum wage gradually beginning July 2016, with the wage reaching US$15 by 2020, under the measure adopted 14-1 by the City Council. The US$15 wage goes into effect in 2020 for businesses that employ 26 or more people and in 2021 for those employing fewer. Several exceptions apply, including for employees under the age of 18 and those working for non-profit groups. The wage hike will be ��giving a raise to 700,000 people who are living at the bottom who earn the lowest possible salary,�� said Councilman Paul Krekorian. The vote came after eight months of intense debate and three studies carried out as to the move’s possible economic impact. Mitchell Englander, the Republican councilman who voted against the measure, said that he feared a higher minimum wage would have unintended consequences such as job loss, reductions in hours worked and would make it impossible for entire sectors to carry out business in Los Angeles. Mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed the measure as a means of helping ��the one million Angelenos who live in poverty.�� Several U.S. West Coast cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, voted last year to increase hourly wages to US$15 over the course of several years.