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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 01:36 GMT
US Senate backs minimum wage rise
US workers harvesting melons in Arizona. File photo
Economic migrants are some of the most vulnerable to low wages
The US Senate has voted to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 per hour to $7.25 from its current level of $5.15.

The increase - the first one in a decade - was supported in a 93-4 vote in the Democratic-held Senate.

Lawmakers also voted to provide tax cuts for small businesses to ease impact of the wage hike.

A similar measure was approved in the House of Representatives on 10 January, but without tax cuts. The Senate and House now must agree on a final bill.

The Senate's version included $8.3bn in small business tax cuts.

The Senate and House - also dominated by the Democrats - now will negotiate on a final bill before it is sent to President George W Bush to be signed into law.

Mr Bush praised the Senate's vote, saying it passed "significant legislation that will benefit America's workers and small businesses".

Democrats promised to increase the minimum wage during their successful campaign last year to win control of Congress.

The minimum wage has been frozen in America at $5.15 per hour since 1997.

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