Living Wage and Minimum Wage

Please visit, NELP's new home on the web for the latest research, media coverage, and campaign news on action to raise the minimum wage.

The ranks of the working poor now exceed 47 million, driven in part by the steep erosion of wage standards throughout our economy. Over the last forty years, the real value of the federal minimum wage has fallen by close to 30%. Even after the 2007-2009 federal increases, the minimum wage remains far too low to sustain working families.  

For the past decade, the national living wage movement has been leading the way in reversing this trend.  By winning increases in the minimum wage in dozens of states and more than 130 cities, grassroots groups have begun to restore a strong wage floor for low-income workers and their families across the country. 

NELP is a key partner to this national movement, helping community coalitions and policymakers develop new ways to raise wage standards at the federal, state and local levels.  We help design new policies, prepare economic and legal analyses, educate the public, and provide legal defense when needed. 

We are currently supporting four major strategies for raising the wage floor: 

  • Federal Minimum Wage

    The American economy needs a strong national wage floor to protect working families in all regions of the country.  NELP is working with allies to restore the federal minimum wage to its historical level and ensure that it does not erode again.

  • State Minimum Wage

    Increases in state minimum wage laws are building momentum for a strong wage floor and establishing other key reforms.  We work across the country to strengthen state minimum wages.

  • Citywide Minimum Wage

    A number of cities across the country have recently enacted their own "citywide" minimum wages that are higher than the state and federal minimum wages.  NELP staff helped design and defend these innovative local measures, which are demonstrating the economic feasibility of a substantially higher minimum wage.

  • Living Wage Laws

    Many more cities have enacted "living wage laws" in recent years, establishing a higher minimum wage for employers that receive contracts or subsidies from the local government.  NELP has supported these campaigns in dozens of cities. 

See also our work in the areas of Job Standards for Economic Development and Enforcement of Workplace Standards

For more information on our work in this area, please contact Paul Sonn,