Congress has raised the national minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. The hike, part of a compromise between the White House and Congress over Iraq funding, will take effect in three stages over the next two years. It will mean bigger paychecks for an estimated 5.6 million American workers.
The bill, which passed both houses with landslide votes, is the first of the Democrats' once-ballyhooed "Six for '06" agenda to make it to the president's desk. The package includes $4.84 billion in tax breaks for small businesses.