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Minimum wage lifted to $13.50

April Fool's Day will mark a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage, the government announced yesterday.

April Fool's Day will mark a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage, the government announced yesterday.

That's a rise from $13 to $13.50 an hour, meaning an extra $20 a week for full-time minimum wage earners.

The training and new entrants’ minimum wages will increase from $10.40 to $10.80 (or 80 percent of the adult minimum wage).

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the “increase strikes the right balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring that jobs are not lost during these tough economic times".

The Maori Party condemned the amount and called for a $16 minimum wage, while Labour, which campaigned on a $15 minimum wage, called the rise "paltry".

This week, government statistics showed average hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent to $26.59 an hour in 2011.