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The Worth of a Raise

Last month, the minimum wage in New York State rose from $5.15 to $6 an hour. Jada Yuan spoke with several minimum-wage workers about the change.

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Mohammed Mansour
29, news vendor, from Egypt by way of Astoria
Ideal minimum wage? $10. Otherwise, you can’t save.
Will this increase make a difference? No, but at least people are trying to help.
What will you spend the extra money on? Scientific books. I have my pharmacist’s degree in Egypt, but now I am trying to get my license here. Also I like [to collect] Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky.
Dream job? Pharmacist.


Aracoli Muñiz
31, cashier, Green Tree food stand, Port Authority, from Mexico by way of the Bronx
Ideal minimum wage? $7.50. Now I can’t have fun. I rent just one room for three people.
Will this increase make a difference? I can save up to go back to my country. What else will you spend the extra money on? I’ll send more to my parents. I send $100, $150 a month.
Dream job? Kindergarten teacher.


Luz Santana
22, cashier, C-Town, from Puerto Rico by way of Williamsburg
Ideal minimum wage? $8. I could buy more clothes. Jeans used to cost $20. Now they’re like $50. And I’m not even picky.
Will this increase make a difference? Some.
What will you spend the extra money on? Medicine. And maybe I can buy a Toyota truck.
Dream job? Social worker.


Maria Uruchima
20, cashier, Green Tree, from Elmhurst
Ideal minimum wage? $8, in, like, a factory. But working here, $6 is okay. I have fun. I can talk to people. I can sit down.
Will this increase make a difference? Yeah. It’s 85 cents I didn’t have before.
What will you spend the extra money on? I want a car so I don’t have to take the train from Queens.
Dream job? Nurse.


Cherai Plummer
22, dining-room cleaner, Wendy’s, from Harlem
Ideal minimum wage? $8. That’s what I got when I was a gift-wrapper at Takashimaya.
Will this increase make a difference? I’m happy it went up, but I’m single, so they kill me with taxes.
What will you spend the extra money on? I want a gigantic TV and DVDs. I like vampire movies.
Dream job? Nurse.


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