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Policy Library

Advance Good Jobs with a $15 Wage

While the cost of living has rapidly increased across the country, millions of workers continue to earn below a liveable wage. In fact, approximately 56.5 million people, or 40% of the workforce, are working full time but not earning enough to afford housing and living costs, pay for healthcare, and raise their families. Increasing the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and providing for reasonable cost of living increases thereafter, is essential to ensuring that all workers are able to earn a liveable wage to support their families and improve lives for all Americans.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island

Introduced in:

Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin
Even if a state has enacted a policy, there may be aspects to be strengthened. We can help identify ways to improve lives in your state. Please reach out to our State Line: 1-833-STATES-1.

In The News

“A home health care worker in Durham, N.C.; a McDonald’s cashier in Chicago; a bank teller in New York; an adjunct professor in Maywood, Ill. They are all evidence of an improving economy, because they are working and not among the steadily declining ranks of the unemployed. Yet these same people also are on public assistance — relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short. And they are not alone. Nearly three-quarters of the people helped by programs geared to the poor are members of a family headed by a worker, according to a new study by the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California”
“New affordable housing data shows rent is out of reach if you make minimum wage in Minnesota, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Local housing advocates dug deeper into the disparities. Keeping up with climbing rent prices while earning minimum wage is like fighting a losing battle, according to Kendall Benson with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. "Our biggest hurdle is the housing market to end homelessness. We need housing,” Benson said. Benson works for a local organization fighting to end homelessness by providing housing...According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, someone making $10.08 per hour — the minimum wage for most of Minnesota — would have to work 69 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment that costs $900 per month. "Sadly, it wasn't a surprise. We've known for a long time that our region faces an intersecting crisis of homelessness and affordability, and the connection to income is clear,” said Chris LaTondresse, chair of the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.”
“A new report from a think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would help three out of 10 Wisconsin workers, and work to close racial and gender pay gaps in the state. The report, from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), finds that 843,000 workers — or 21 percent of workers in the state — currently make less than $15 an hour and would be directly impacted by a boost to the minimum wage. Another 257,000 Wisconsin workers — or 9 percent — earn only slightly more than $15 an hour and would likely get pay increases if the wage floor rose...It also finds that wages would increase for half of Black workers, just over half of Hispanic workers and more than a third of working women in Wisconsin. "You can see that even though it's a universal policy ... it raises the wages and brings towards the middle, workers who are disproportionately at the bottom — and that's Black and brown workers and that's women workers," said Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS.”


  • Workers and their families
  • Employment advocates
  • Fair pay advocates
  • Businesses that support fair pay


  • High-powered special interest groups that oppose fair pay
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The State Line


Who does this policy help?
This policy helps all workers and their families by ensuring that they are able to earn enough to support their families, afford housing and living costs, and by reversing the growing pay gap between the most underpaid workers and workers receiving a median wage. This policy would also benefit everyone by lowering state costs to public programs that support underpaid workers, contributing to a stronger overall economy.
Is this high cost for the state?
No. In fact, studies show that public programs for underpaid workers and their families cost federal and state taxpayers more than $107 billion a year in states without a $15 minimum wage.
How will this policy impact businesses?
Increasing the state minimum wage helps businesses that would benefit from a more productive and hard working workforce, lower staff turnover, better service, and better health outcomes.

Model Policy

This act shall be known as the STATE Fair Wage Act.

This act gradually increases the STATE minimum wage to ensure that all STATE residents have good jobs to support their families.


(A) Within six months of enactment of this section, DEPARTMENT is directed to determine and promulgate a schedule of annual increases to gradually increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Each adjusted Minimum Wage rate calculated shall be published and take effect on the following January 1st.
(B) On January 1, 2026, and not later than each January first thereafter, the minimum fair wage shall be adjusted by the percentage change in the employment cost index, or its successor index, for wages and salaries for all civilian workers, as calculated by the U.S. Dept of Labor, over the twelve-month period ending on June 30th of the preceding year, rounded to the nearest whole cent.
(C) Whenever the federal minimum wage is increased such that the minimum wage established under this Act is below the applicable federal minimum wage, the minimum wage established under this part shall be increased to the amount of the federal minimum wage.