By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A group of Chicago aldermen plan to introduce a proposal on Wednesday to boost the minimum wage in the nation's third-largest city to $15 per hour, joining officials in other major U.S. cities who also are considering a hike.

The group proposing the wage hike is separate from a panel Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel named last week among aldermen, labor and business leaders to provide recommendations for raising the minimum wage.

Alderman Ricardo Munoz said 12 to 15 of the 50 council members support the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and he expected more to join.

The increase would match the minimum pay that fast-food workers have sought during national protests and would be good for Chicago's economy, Munoz said.

"Study after study demonstrates that when you put money into the pockets of consumers, they spend it," Munoz said. "They don't hoard it in their mattresses."

Illinois voters could be asked in November to vote on an advisory referendum whether to raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour from $8.25.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan earlier in May to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the first major U.S. city to commit to such a high base level of pay. The proposal awaits approval by the city council.

New York and San Diego also are considering hikes.

Minimum wage increases have been considered in 38 states this year in a national push by Democrats. President Barack Obama urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25, but did not win the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

In a bipartisan vote on Tuesday, Michigan approved raising the minimum wage to $9.25 per hour by 2018.

Alderman William Burns, co-chair of Emanuel's group, said it was appropriate to consider a higher minimum wage for Chicago, where the cost of living was significantly higher than in other parts of Illinois, but it was important to keep the city competitive.

Emanuel told his panel to make recommendations within 45 days. The panel includes the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, which opposes an increase in Illinois and especially in Chicago.

"We think it puts us at a competitive disadvantage," Chamber CEO Theresa Mintle said.

(Editing by David Bailey and Bernadette Baum)

[Waitress photo via Shutterstock]