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    US Fast-Food Workers Rallying for Higher Pay

    Fast-food workers are rallying in many U.S. cities Thursday in an uphill fight to raise the country's minimum wage.

    Labor organizers say workers at such fast-food chains as McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and others are planning to walk off their low-paying jobs in 100 cities, with demonstrations planned in other communities.

    The fast-food restaurant workers are calling for a national $15-an-hour minimum wage. That is more than twice the current $7.25 figure that many of them are paid, but the workers say they cannot live on or support a family on such a $15,000 annual salary.

    Numerous U.S. corporate executives, although not all, oppose raising the figure and say it would force them to close some of their outlets. Conservative U.S. lawmakers also generally oppose raising the wage, contending that it would hurt the economy.

    The protests are taking place a day after President Barack Obama drew attention to the growing income split in the U.S. between wealthy professionals and low-income hourly wage earners. He pledged support for raising the minimum wage, but did not call for a specific figure.



    "I'm going to keep pushing until we get a higher minimum wage for hard-working Americans across the entire country. It will be good for our economy. It will be good for our families."



    The government reported Thursday that the U.S. economy, the world's largest, grew at a 3.6 percent annual pace in the July-to-September period, the fastest since early 2012. But the report said almost all the growth occurred with a big jump in companies increasing their stockpiles of products.

    Analysts said the growth in stockpiles is not likely to be repeated in the last three months of the year when the country's economic advance is expected to slow.

    In another report, the U.S. said the number of Americans making first-time claims for jobless benefits fell 23,000 last week from the previous week to a nearly six-year low of 298,000.

    The number of claims for unemployment compensation has fallen in seven of the past eight weeks, an indication that businesses are laying off fewer workers.

    The government is set to release its November employment report on Friday. The U.S. jobless rate was pegged at 7.3 percent in October as employers added 204,000 more workers to their payrolls.

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