According to Renwick with the Fiscal Policy Institute, those low-paid workers, like the dishwashers and bussers, even with wage increases, still don't make enough " especially if they're supporting a family.
"The opposition likes to paint this picture that everyone making minimum wage is high school students or casual workers," said Renwick.
Even with the raise to $7.15 an hour, those making minimum wage, and raising a family, work below the poverty line.
"We feel that this is a basic tenet " if you work full time, you should be able to support your family," said Renwick.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., an original cosponsor of legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., that would increase the federal minimum wage, said, "It is unacceptable that Americans working full time are living in poverty. Every day the minimum wage is not increased, it continues to lose value, and working families fall further behind."
The last time a full-time minimum wage worker lived near or above the poverty line was around 1970, said Renwick, adding that to get back to that level, minimum wage would need to increase to at least $8.50 an hour over the next couple of years. One solution, said Renwick, is having legislation that would make the minimum wage increase automatically each year so "we don't have this fight every three years."
"We'd like to see a movement where we could at least get back to where we were around 1970," said Renwick. "
SIDEBAR: Keep the change By JESSICA HARDING, Spotlight Staff
Working for minimum wage can seem thankless at times, but some food-service jobs have hourly salaries that clock in far under the state minimum. When minimum wage in New York was increased to $7.15 per hour at the beginning of the year, it was set at $4.60 per hour for food servers. The idea is that tips make up the difference.