REUTERS/Richard Drew

The Minimum Wage Will Soon Be Raised To $15 For Around 60 Million Americans

As of Monday, two of America's most populous states, New York and California, are officially moving toward a $15 minimum wage -- the highest nationwide. This is a huge step forward in the fight to eliminate the wealth gap in the US.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was the first to sign a bill approving the increase, and California Governor Jerry Brown followed suit about an hour later.

California and New York have a combined population of around 60 million people, meaning nearly 20 percent of the country will soon be making a minimum of 15 dollars per hour. This is substantially more than the federal minimum wage, currently set at 7 dollars and 25 cents per hour.

The minimum wage will be increased gradually to 15 dollars in both states over the coming years.

In California, the minimum wage will reach 15 dollars by 2022 after being raised from 10 dollars to 10 dollars and 50 cents next year, 11 dollars in 2018 and then 1 dollar more each year after that.

New York has a more complicated plan: The minimum wage will be raised to 15 dollars in New York City by the end of 2018, but the process will occur more slowly in other parts of the state.

Raising the minimum wage continues to be a hotbed issue nationwide.

Proponents, often Democrats, like presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, argue it's both the ethical and practical thing to do.

Opponents, often Republicans in Congress, argue it's cumbersome for businesses and bad for economic growth.

At present, California has the highest statewide minimum wage in the country at 10 dollars per hour. Seattle and Los Angeles, among other cities, also recently raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars.

This issue will definitely continue to be relevant -- especially since it's an election year.

Citations: California, New York Launch 60 Million Americans Into A $15 Minimum Wage Economy (Think Progress)