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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration approved new rules Tuesday that extend minimum wage and overtime pay to nearly 2 million home health care workers who help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks such as bathing, eating or taking medicine.

Home care aides have been exempt from federal wage laws since 1974, when they were when they were placed in the same category as neighborhood baby sitters. But their ranks have surged with the aging population and the field is now one of the fastest-growing professions. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the workers deserve the same legal protections as most other employees.

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