Mike DeBonis and I explain in today’s paper:

States and municipalities across the country are leading a localized push to raise the minimum wage, driven largely by Democrats, who see an opening to appeal to working-class Americans at a time of growing inequity.

Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers.

The efforts, while supported by many unions, threaten to create a patchwork of wage rates that could mean workers in some areas will be entitled to vastly less than those working similar jobs nearby. The campaigns reach from coast to coast.

“Congress can’t do anything right now, and even if they could, they wouldn’t even come close to the level that various cities and states around the country are looking at,” said Phil Mendelson, the Democratic chairman of the D.C. Council, which isexpected to take an initial vote Tuesday setting the city’s minimum wage at $11.50 an hour by 2016.

Read the story here.