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Congressmen to push for federal minimum wage hike

Rhode Island's two Democratic congressmen are highlighting their support for raising the federal minimum wage.

Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline held a news conference Wednesday morning at the Rochambeau Library in Providence to discuss their support for the "Fair Minimum Wage Act."

The congressmen were joined by officials from the Economic Progress Institute, the Rhode Island Building Trades and other leaders.

The legislation would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over three years. It's currently $7.25 an hour.

"No one should work full time in this country and raise their family in poverty earning $14,500. We can do better as a nation, we can do better as a state," Cicilline said.

Langevin suggests that the economy as a whole will improve with the additional spending by low-wage earners.

"The economy does better. The company does better. It tends to be a win-win when you have a strong middle class that can afford to provide for themselves and their families. And that's our goal," he said.

However, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity predicts a hike in the minimum wage will cost jobs.

Mike Stenhouse, the group's director, said small businesses will reduce the number of entry level jobs.

"We're going to be robbing hundreds if not thousands of Rhode Islanders from getting those first step stepping stone jobs," he said.

Rhode Island increased its minimum wage from $7.40 to $7.75 an hour in January.

Some lawmakers have introduced legislation this session to hike it further, to $8.25 an hour, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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