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FYI: As the state’s poverty rate climbs and low-wage jobs expand, the minimum wage–$5.15 an hour—has less buying power than it has had since the 1940s, argues the Fiscal Policy Institute. In a report released yesterday, FPI calls for raising the state wage floor to $7 an hour, putting New York State in line with 12 others and bringing low wages back to where they were in the 1970s. In 1979, only 3.6 percent of workers made less than seven bucks for an hour work (in 2003 dollars); in 2000, 11.7 percent did. Meanwhile, more than a third of families with a minimum-wage earner depend solely on that income. The report counters the assertion that raising minimum wages will hurt the labor market by pointing out that such worries were proven unfounded following the 1996 and 1997 increases in the federal minimum wage. [01/13/03]

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