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Broad support in NYC for higher minimum wage, poll shows

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers strongly back hiking the minimum wage, a poll showed on Thursday, while their support for the police department hit new lows under a mayor seeking to improve community relations.

Half of the city voters surveyed said they would support an increase in New York's minimum wage to $13 an hour from $8, while a third approved of a hike to $10.10, the poll by Quinnipiac University showed.

Only about one in 10 said the rate should stay where it is, it said.

The findings come in the wake of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's amending of a bill to boost the minimum wage.

The proposal, which Silver called a top priority as the legislative session comes to a close, would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, indexed to inflation, and allow municipalities to push wages as much as 30 percent higher.

The poll also showed declining job approval for the New York Police Department, falling 9 points from March to 59 percent.

Approval was lower among blacks and Hispanics compared to whites, and overall support has dwindled since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in January with a stated goal of improving relations between communities and the police.

Voters two-to-one said they wanted police to patrol public housing, it showed.

Concern over security has increased since a 6-year-old boy was killed and a 7-year-old girl was critically injured in a stabbing last week in a housing project elevator in Brooklyn.

A convicted felon newly released from prison, with a history of mental illness, has been arrested in the case.

About half of voters overall believe the mayor can cut back the police department's controversial stop-and-frisk practice while making the city safer, it said. Two-thirds of black voters supported that view, but more than half of white voters said they believe crime will go up.

"Stop and frisk persists as a divisive issue. Will ending it drive up crime? Black and Hispanic voters say no, but white voters say yes," said Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.

"Almost two-thirds of black voters want the police back in the public housing projects, checking people in the hallways," he said.

More than 1,000 city voters were polled between last Thursday and Monday. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Sandra Maler)

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