Is a $9 Minimum Wage a Possibility?

In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a plan to make good on his promise to raise the minimum wage from the $7.25 to $9. If, or when the change happens, it will boost wages of more than 15 million Americans.

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty,” he said. “This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families … for businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets.”

In many states, minimum-wage workers are paid the federal rate, which translates to $14,500 a year for full-time employees. Some states, including the District of Columbia, have rates above the federal wage level. Washington State has the highest minimum wage level at $9.19.

Raising the wage level would give workers an extra $3,500 in their pockets annually, which would help the 3.8 million hourly workers that earn at or below the minimum wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 5.2 percent of the workers that are paid hourly. Laborers paid a fixed weekly amount, like maids or landscapers, would also benefit from a wage increase.

The last time wages were increased was in 2007 when lawmakers raised the current wage from $5.15 per hour.

As usual, raising the minimum wage is a hot button issue on the Hill. Democratic leaders have introduced bills that are still waiting for review. For more on the proposed wage hike, head to CNN Money.