Democrat Mark Schauer promised Monday to hike Michigan's minimum wage if he is elected governor, the Associated Press reported.
Michigan's minimum wage is $7.40, 15 cents higher than the federal minimum wage standard. Schauer's plan calls for increasing the minimum to $9.25 after three years of incremental wage increases. After that, wage increases would be tied to inflation.
Schauer appeared Monday morning at Avalon Bakery, a midtown Detroit baker and wholesale business, to announce his plan. The bakery has made national headlines for creating to-die-for breads, scones, muffins and other goods while paying their employees a living wage.
"We are better than having people work full time and live in poverty, especially when they're raising kids," Schauer told The Associated Press before the announcement.
Schauer said that the $9.25 per-hour rate gives low-wage workers the same purchasing power as they had in 1968. According to a CNN Money analysis of minimum wage and inflation statistics, 1968's minimum wage was actually worth $10.56 in today's dollars. Raising the minimum wage to $9 or above would restore its purchasing power to a value last seen in the early 1980s, according to the report.
Schauer's likely opponent, current Gov. Rick Snyder (R), hasn't taken a position on raising the minimum wage in Michigan. His spokesperson told the Associated Press that there could be unintended consequences to such an action, like job losses, and Snyder is focused on creating more jobs in Michigan.
Schauer called his plan, "simple economics."
"When working families have more to spend on everyday necessities like gas, groceries and clothes for the kids, it creates demand for the economy. When demand increases, small businesses grow and hire work more workers," he said in a release.
"It is also morally the right thing to do for our families," Schauer added.
According to the nonpartisan Michigan League for Public Policy, 85 percent of minimum-wage employees in the state are over age 20, 55 percent are women and 44 percent work full-time. Raising the minimum wage would impact more than 1 million Michigan workers, according to Schauer's press release.
After Snyder signed legislation making Michigan a right-to-work state last year, Michigan Democrats seem to be making minimum wage increases a key issue. Separately from Schauer, Democrats introduced bills in the state House and Senate to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016. Michigan's minimum wage was last increased in 2008.
Recent polls have showed that Snyder and Schauer could be "statistically tied" in the governor's race, although Snyder has not officially declared he is running for reelection in 2014.