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Vermont to raise minimum wage to $10.50, highest of any U.S. state

BOSTON (Reuters) - Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin on Monday signed a law that will raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018, higher than any other U.S. state

The move to raise the entry-level salary from $8.73 comes in a year when Democrats, including Shumlin, have sought to make worker pay an election issue.

U.S. President Barack Obama pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wages to $10.10 per hour from its current $7.25 but failed to win support in either the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or Democratic-controlled Senate.

Seven U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws this year raising their minimum wages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut, Hawaii and Maryland all plan to raise their minimums to $10.10 per hour, with the District adopting an $11.50 minimum in 2016.

"States like Vermont realize that working people can't support their families on the current minimum wage, and we're moving ahead to do the right thing on our own," Shumlin said at a signing ceremony.

Vermont will raise its minimum wage in three steps, first to $9.60 in 2016, to $10 in 2017 and finally to $10.50 in 2018.

Some U.S. cities have approved higher wages, with Seattle's city council last week agreeing to raise its minimum to $15 per hour over the next seven years.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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