LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to raising minimum pay in the nation’s second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020, a key step as wages in America have stagnated.

If enacted, Los Angeles would join Seattle and San Francisco as some of the largest cities in the nation with phased-in minimum wage laws that eventually require annual pay of about $31,200.

“Today, help is on the way for the 1 million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. The council voted 14-1 after residents made impassioned statements for and against the plan that would progressively bump up the wage from the current $9 an hour, which also is the minimum for California.

The vote sent the measure to the city attorney to prepare a wage ordinance that will go to a council committee and, assuming it passes, to the full council for a final vote and then to Garcetti. The vote follows months of debate and study at a time when American workers have struggled with flat wages.

Average hourly wages in the nation rose just 3 cents in April to $24.87. Wages have risen only 2.2 percent over the past 12 months, roughly the same sluggish pace of the past six years, according to Labor Department figures.

The 9 million jobs lost during the recession have played a role in keeping wages down around the nation and even the recovery has had limited impact.

Yet pressure to raise the minimum wage has been building around the country and in Los Angeles, which has some of the highest housing costs in the nation.

Maine lawmakers are considering at least eight bills this year that would increase Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8 to $12 an hour.

The Portland City Council is considering a proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour starting in January, followed by 50-cent increases in 2019 and 2020. Bangor officials have discussed setting higher local wages as well.