KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's Jackson County is boosting the minimum wage for its employees to $15 per hour over the next two years.

The county said in a news release Monday that the increase is the result of a study that examined whether wages were competitive. The hourly wages of of the county's lowest paid workers will rise to $12.50 in 2020, $13.75 in 2021 and $15 in 2022.

The study also found that the county was paying too little for other jobs. All told, more than 500 staff members, almost half of the county's full-time workforce, will get an immediate pay raise that will average nearly 17%.

County executive Frank White said that departments were “struggling to fill vacancies in essential roles simply because we refused to acknowledge that we were not compensating our staff appropriately for the work they were doing."

Kansas City, Missouri, leaders previously passed an ordinance recommending living wage increases and promising to raise the minimum wage for municipal workers to $15 per hour by 2022.

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