Gap Inc., the global fashion retailer, said it plans to raise the minimum wage for its U.S. employees to $9 an hour this year and $10 an hour by 2015.
The move will directly benefit 65,000 U.S. employees at Gap's six retail chains, which include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores.
Gap's announcement comes amid a nationwide debate about the minimum wage.
President Obama praised Gap's decision and urged Congress to pass a bill that would raise the nation's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25 an hour.
Gap Chief Executive Glenn Murphy said the move will help the company attract and retain valued employees.
"To us, this is not a political issue," he said in a statement on the company's website. "Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.
"The people in our company who engage directly with our customers carry an incredible responsibility. Our success is a result of their hard work, love of fashion and commitment. We hope this decision provides them with some additional support as they grow their careers with Gap Inc."
Murphy said the wage hike will affect employees at all six of its brands, which also include Athleta, Intermix and Piperlime.
Gap is the largest apparel retailer in the United States.
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