The amount of money people make while working has been a hot topic in the country over the last few years. One of the primary things that fuel this debate is the concept of a minimum wage, whether companies should be required to follow its rules, and how much wages should be.

According to the US Department of Labor, the minimum wage is the lowest allowable hourly rate that can be paid for to workers and is based upon rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The current Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 per hour and has been at that rate since July 2009. Before then, the way was $6.55 per hour.

By most current economic standards, $7.25 per hour is not considered a living wage. If someone has a job paying that rate and works full time, they would earn approximately $15,080 annually. That amount is just a tad higher than the Federal Poverty Level, which is $15,060 for a single individual.

While the Federal Minimum Wage has been stagnant for more than 15 years, some states have taken it upon themselves to boost workers' wages. New York State, for example, has just raised its state-wide minimum wage to $15 per hour, more than double the current federal wage. Other states like Washington, Connecticut, and New Jersey have an even higher hourly minimum wage. In contrast, states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and South Carolina don't have a minimum wage at all.

The debate surrounding whether or not the Federal Minimum Wage should be increased has been going on for years, and now it looks like the most recent proposal in Congress would increase the wage by more than 600%.

Congress May Debate Increasing Minimum Wage To $50 Per Hour

A Congresswoman from California has floated the idea of raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $50 per hour. If that rate did make it to law, it would increase more than 680% from the current rate.

The annual salary for someone working full-time, earning $50 per hour, would be $104,000 per year. While that pay increase would make a huge difference for the everyday worker, many wonder if small businesses could survive such an increase. Not to mention the impact that wage increase would have on inflation.

In the Bay area, I believe it was the United Way that came out with a report that very recently $127,000 for a family of four is just barely enough to get by. Another survey very recently found $104,000 for a family of one, barely enough to get by.
-Barbara Lee, Representative to Congress from California's 12th District

How Much Was New York Minimum Wage When You Started Working?

Gallery Credit: Rob Banks

19 States Where The Minimum Wage Doesn't Match The Living Wage

According to MIT's Living Wage Calculator, this is what people actually need to make depending on their circumstances per hour.