Last week fast-food workers went on strike in over 50 cities nationwide, asking for a living wage of $15 per hour.
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a raise in the federal minimum wage from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour. The last time the wage was given a boost was in 2009, after 2007’s Fair Minimum Wage Act called for a gradual increase from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.
Currently, the minimum wage by state varies. While some states have an hourly rate that is higher than the federal minimum, the majority of states set theirs at or below $7.25.
There are states that also allow a lower minimum wage for tipped employees (waitresses, valets, bartenders). This tipped wage can be as low as $2 or $3; however, if employees’ tips do not take hourly wages over the minimum, employers are required to make up the difference.
Meanwhile, there are a large group of employees to whom the federal minimum wage does not apply.
And in a sobering study by the Cato Institute, researchers suggested that going on welfare can reap more benefits than working a backbreaking minimum-wage job.
Click through the gallery to sees what the minimum wage is for the five highest- and lowest-paying states.