Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More money today for those making the least.

The federal minimum wage today goes up for the first time in ten years, jumping 70 cents to five dollars and 85 cents an hour.

It's the first of three, 70-cent increases that will hike the minimum wage to seven dollars and 25 cents an hour by the summer of 2009.

The government says more than one and a-half (m) million American workers made the old minimum wage of five dollars and 15 cents an hour or less last year.

The increase is one of the few major legislative successes of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. President Bush signed the measure into law after the Democrats removed a provision calling for the withdrawal of U-S troops from Iraq.

The bill also contains nearly five (b) billion dollars' worth of tax relief for small businesses to help them hire new workers. The relief will also help offset the cost of the higher wage.

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