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NY1 Exclusive: New Yorkers Largely Back A Minimum Wage Increase That Has Divided Albany

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Albany lawmakers may be fighting over whether to raise the state's minimum wage, but an exclusive NY1-Marist College poll shows strong support for a wage hike across New York State and across party lines. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

In Albany, the debate about whether to raise the minimum wage in New York is split along party lines.

"There are two ways you move a person out of poverty. One is, give a person a job. Second is, raise the minimum wage," says Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, a Democrat.

"It really negatively impacts young people throughout the state who are a good part of the minimum wage-earning group when they get laid off, because the small businesses will not be able to afford to have them," says Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has introduced a bill to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. An exclusive NY1-Marist College poll shows New Yorkers overwhelmingly approve of the concept.

About 72 percent of state residents say it is a good idea because it would boost incomes during a difficult economic time. Only 25 percent say it is a bad idea because small businesses will not be able to hire as many people.

The results were more-or-less consistent across the state geographically. Not surprisingly, there is more support among Democrats for a wage hike, but the poll does show a majority of Republicans and New Yorkers who consider themselves conservative support the idea as well.

When it comes to New Yorkers' overall outlook on the state's economy, 51 percent of New York voters say the worst is over but 44 percent say the worst is still to come.

As for the level of improvement, the poll shows 27 percent of voters think the state's economy is getting better. Only 23 percent say it is getting worse but 49 percent say it is staying about the same.

Voters are slightly more optimistic when it comes to their own money. About 31 percent say they expect their family finances to get better, while 16 percent are bracing for things to get worse. About 53 percent say they will stay the same.

Lastly, despite the fact that New York State's recession officially ended in 2009, 67 percent of voters say they think New York is still in one.

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