Every Job Should Pay a Living Wage

NELP is fighting to raise the wage floor so it reaches a true living wage that people and families can live on.

A Black man points directly at the photographer at an action. He is holding a bullhorn to the side and is wearing a mask that reads, "Fight, Don't Starve," and is wearing a shirt that reads "Wage Justice is Racial Justice."

Paychecks That Sustain People and Families

Good jobs that pay a living wage are the foundation of an economy that works for everyone.

But today, workers are being squeezed by rising prices and low pay. Corporations reap record profits yet choose to severely underpay their workers. Millions of people are working full-time or more but struggle to afford the basics; many must take on second or third jobs to scrape by.

NELP is fighting for higher pay that people and families can live on.

We’re advocating to:

  • Raise the minimum wage and expand coverage at the federal, state, and local levels—to move the minimum wage closer to a living wage.
  • Make more workers eligible for overtime pay, so they are properly paid for the long hours they put in.
  • Let cities and counties set their own higher labor standards—opposing state “preemption” laws that block cities and counties from adopting higher local minimum wages and other pro-worker policies.

Congress Needs to Raise the Federal Minimum Wage

The federal minimum hourly wage is just $7.25. Congress has not increased it since 2009—15 years ago and counting.

Low wages hurt all workers and are particularly harmful to Black workers and other workers of color—especially women—who make up a disproportionate share of workers who are severely underpaid.

It’s time that elected lawmakers in Congress pass the Raise the Wage Act, to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $17 an hour by 2028 and end the subminimum wage for tipped workers and disabled workers.

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Minimum Wage: By the Numbers


per hour is the federal minimum wage; it hasn’t gone up in 15 years.


states follow the federal minimum wage; they have not raised wages above $7.25.


per hour is the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers; it hasn’t changed since 1991.

Expand Overtime Pay Rights to More Workers

Millions of workers are not receiving overtime pay despite working more than 40 hours a week. The erosion of overtime pay is a key factor in the deterioration of middle-class wages and living standards.

Reform of the nation’s overtime rules is much needed and long overdue. We want to make more workers eligible for overtime pay, by fighting to:

  • Raise the overtime salary threshold (currently $35,568 a year); the higher the threshold, the more people below it who will qualify for overtime pay.
  • End overtime pay exclusions that block millions of workers, including teachers and farmworkers, from getting overtime pay no matter how many hours they work.

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FAQ: Understanding the Minimum Wage