JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you earn minimum wage, you may soon get a pay raise.
President Barack Obama unveiled a plan in his State of the Union address Tuesday night to raise the federal minimum wage to an hourly rate of $9 by 2015, up from the current $7.25 an hour.
If it becomes law, it would boost the wages of 15 million Americans.
"Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty," Obama said. "Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so it finally becomes a wage you can live on."
When Obama campaigned in 2008, he pledge to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, but that deadline has come and gone.
If this new proposal becomes reality, how would this play out for full-time employees making the minimum wage?
Workers getting paid the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 translates into $14,500 a year. Were the rate to rise to $9, a worker would earn roughly $18,000 a year.
"Right now I'm saving up for a scooter, so I would get it that much quicker, it would make going back to school a lot easier, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of people," deli worker Jenna Otero said.
Currently, some 3.8 million hourly workers earn at or below the minimum wage.
The president faces a tough battle getting a wage hike through Congress. The last time lawmakers approved such a bill was in 2007, when they agreed on an increase from $5.15 per hour to the current rate of $7.25.
Some small business owners are hoping the new wage does not become law.
"Times have been a little difficult around here as it is, not to mention you throw in the factor of having to pay your employees even more, it does make it a little more of a challenge for us," said Krista Nilsson, of Therapie Clothing Store in San Marco. "If we can hire more when we need them, we might not be able to. So it just gives us a little more of a challenge and just a little more difficult for us as a small business owner."
If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living since 1968, it would now equal $10.56. The White House says that raising the wage to $9 restores its inflation-adjusted value to where it was in 1981.