As Minnesota lawmakers prepare to push legislation raising the state's minimum wage by $3.50 an hour, a nonpartisan think-tank releases data showing a major increase to $9.50 an hour would greatly improve the state's economy.
In Luverne, Minnesota, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, just under $15,000 per year for someone working full-time.
That's not nearly enough according to economic researchers at Minnesota2020.
"Minnesota is not creating the good middle-class jobs we need to sustain an economy," Minnesota2020's Joe Sheeran said.
A $9.50 Minnesota minimum wage would boost the state's low-wage worker's purchasing power by $470 million annually, according the latest Made In Minnesota report.
Lee Egerstrom is the author.
"This is what lifts people out of poverty and strengthens the community economy and strengthens the whole state of Minnesota," Egerstrom said.
And while opponents to raising the state's minimum wage argue it would just help teenagers, Minnesota2020 says their research finds that 77 percent of people earning the lowest wages are over 20-years-old.
And while some people in Luvurne say $9.50 is a bit steep for minimum wage, most we spoke to agree with Minnesota 2020's findings.
"I'm not as concerned frankly about how high it goes, I am more concerned that it be indexed with inflation because we have a lot of folks here who can barely make it and we need to share the wealth," Benjamin Vander Kooi said.
"Everybody has to have an opportunity to make a living," Janice Busse said.
Minnesota2020 also urges shoppers to be socially responsible by spending money at businesses who treat their workers fairly.
Minnesota2020 representatives say the minimum wage increase would impact 5,200 people in District 22, which covers the southwestern corner of the state.
In South Dakota, state democrats petitioned to put a minimum wage increase to $8.50 on next year's ballot.