Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal minimum wage goes up this week to five dollars and 85 cents an hour.

That's 70 cents higher than the old minimum and is the first increase in ten years. But some lawmakers and labor experts say it's still far from ideal.

Somebody being paid the minimum wage will be earning roughly 12-thousand dollars a year before taxes. And House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller says it's "an outrage" that in the "wealthiest country in the history of the world," anybody could work full time and still wind up in poverty.

At the bottom end of the pay scale, getting by will still be a challenge no matter how you cut it. Author Beth Shulman says every penny counts when you're having to choose between food, clothes and electricity.

Fawn Townsend is 24 and single and works as a fast-food waitress in Raleigh, North Carolina. She says if Tuesday's boost means any extra money for her, she plans to start saving for a car. Townsend says she needs one to get a second job to help make ends meet.


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