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Minimum wage increase affects few in N.C.

Beginning Tuesday most workers at the lower end of the scale are going to see higher paychecks. The first stage of the federal minimum wage price hikes take effect Tuesday. For the first time in ten years the nation's lowest-paid employees are getting a raise. Effective Tuesday the nation's minimum wage increases by 70 cents. Almost two million workers will now receive $5.85 an hour. And this raise won't be the last. In addition to Tuesday's increase the bill signed by president bush last may boosts the minimum wage 70 cents next summer and another 70 cents in 2009. After the three increases, workers will make $7.25 an hour. In 2006, an estimated 1.7 million workers made the minimum wage or even less. Under the old rate, minimum wage workers earned $10,700 a year for a 40-hour work week. That's only $500 more than the federal poverty level for a single worker. With Tuesday's raise, the new yearly salary increases to $12,168. Critics of the wage hike said small businesses would feel the impact most and could stop hiring entry level employees because of the higher wages. But congressional leaders who favored the bill added nearly $5 billion in tax breaks as an incentive for small businesses to hire minimum wage workers. So how does this affect us in our state? For the most part, it doesn't -- unless you work for tips. Minimum wage here has been $6.15 since January 1. With the increase in the federal rate to $5.85 an hour, restaurant owners will pay less in base pay to employees who earn tips, meaning tips will make up the difference to get employees up to the minimum wage. » View detailed information on the minimum wage
» Minimum Wage in NC

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