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US protesters call for minimum wage rise

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators demanding an increase in the minimum wage march in the streets on April 14, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (AFP)

Americans hold nationwide protest rallies and marches to demand a rise in the minimum wage and also laws preventing ‘wage theft.’

Thousands of low-wage workers marched in New York, Los Angeles and other US cities on Thursday, calling for minimum pay to rise.

Similar demonstrations in dozens of other cities, including Chicago and Miami, drew thousands of workers to the streets.

The protesters, mostly fast-food workers, said their aim is to secure a 15-dollar per hour minimum wage for all Americans, hoping it will lead to better working conditions.

The "Fight for $15" campaign has grown since its inception in 2012 and thus far scored some legislative victories in California and New York.

Fast-food workers, who sparked the movement, also demanded union rights and laws preventing what they call wage theft.

The US federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009.

Some 64 million Americans are paid less than 15 dollars an hour in a variety of industries, including home care, airports, and janitorial positions.

A last month report said more than 50 million people in the United States live in economically distressed areas plagued by high unemployment, poverty and financial anxiety despite the economic recovery since the ‘Great Recession.’

With the overall US economy on the rebound since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the gap between the rich and poor is only widening, according to the report by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a newly-created non-profit research and advocacy group in Washington.

The report shows that economic conditions may have actually worsened since 2009.

Overall, it portrayed a profoundly uneven picture of the US economic recovery especially in coastal regions in the Northeast, northern portions of the Midwest and several cities on the West Coast. 

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