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Debating minimum wage

The minimum wage in New York State went up from $6 to $6.75 as of Jan. 1. Some rejoice at the 75-cent raise. Others say, "Well it's nice, but not good enough."

To teen workers who get paid minimum wage, this increase is awesome, great, cool, and may even top the things on their "sweeeet" list. Teens like Victoria Dynarski, 16, an employee at Sam Goody at the McKinley Mall and Tiffany Brown, 17, an employee at Auntie Anne's Pretzels at the McKinley Mall, like the minimum wage increase. "I like that minimum wage increased," Tiffany said. Victoria observed: "I personally like that minimum wage went up but what about those people who can't live on minimum wage, minimum wage still isn't enough."

Victoria said she uses her wages to buy clothes and necessities such as deodorant, hair gel, and lotion. Katie Pokerwinski, 17, an employee at Aeropostale at the McKinley Mall, uses her paychecks for car insurance and gas.

But do teens who still live at home with their parents really need the higher wage? Many teens have jobs because their parents don't give them money for things like clothes, cell phone bills or concert tickets. In most cases, their parents probably cover most basic bills like shelter, food, clothing and so forth.

Less happy about the higher minimum wage are workers who already were making $6.70 an hour after spending some time on the job and taking on more responsibility. These young adults believe that seniority should account for higher wages. These people, 18 and older, use their wages to pay for college, books, transportation and food. They are trying to make it on their own by working as many hours as they can.

Janine Haynes, 20, a shift supervisor at Anderson's Ice Cream and a student at Buffalo State College, and Jennifer Delmar, 20, a manager at Anderson's, who also attends Buffalo State College, did not receive a raise and were not quite happy about the hike in minimum wage -- mainly because employees without job titles are now making relatively closer to what managers and shift supervisors make. "I have mixed feelings about the minimum wage increase," Haynes said. "I don't like the fact that the price of everything has gone up since the increase."

Nick Milks opposed the hike in the minimum wage. The 20-year-old employee at Anderson's Roast Beef and Frozen Custard, says: "It's not fair to the older people out of high school, they're taking money away from them."

Milks believes there should be two minimum wages: one for people in high school and one for people out of high school who have to live on their paychecks each week. He believes this minimum wage increase is a sort of age discrimination, "People in high school don't need to make more than $6 an hour," he said. Milks says he sends his paychecks on "rent and food."

The minimum wage in New York State will rise to $7.15 on Jan. 1, 2007.

Angela Hejna is a junior at Leonardo DaVinci High School.

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