SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Minimum wage workers across the country are demanding higher pay. A single person would have to make at least a dollar more per hour than current minimum wage just to afford to live in Onondaga County.
Sharleen Starks works at Dunkin' Donuts. She said the minimum wage job was the only one she could find while in school.
"There's nothing against Dunkin' Donuts. I love my job. I love it to death. But it just needs to be more money. You put a lot of hard work in. You get up everyday. You go in early sometimes. You leave later. Then your check is only $200. It makes you feel like you're working for nothing," said Starks.
Starks was one of several people rallying in Syracuse Thursday to get state lawmakers to raise the minimum wage in New York from $8 to $10.10 per hour.
It's part of the Raise Up New York Campaign.
Advocates are also asking lawmakers to give local municipalities the ability to adjust the minimum wage to reflect the cost of living in that community.
"Not only can they not meet the needs of their families and households, they don't have any spending money to put back into our communities, in the economy. They rely on public funds, like food stamps and Medicaid because those wages aren't enough. We need to raise those people up. We need to invest in our communities," said Blue Carreker, Citizen Action of New York campaign coordinator.
Workers said a low minimum wage creates a perpetual cycle of poverty that's almost impossible to break.
"It was really hard because I wanted to work really, really bad. I wanted to get so many hours in because I wanted my check to look halfway decent. But then I had to think about school. School is very very important," said Starks. "I'm taking out all these student loans and I'm sitting through all these hours in class. But when I get out, am I going to have a job that I can go right into or am I going to get this minimum wage job where I can't hardly pay my student loans back with that?"
While the effort is aimed mostly at multi-billion dollar companies like the fast-food industry and Walmart, small local businesses would also have to comply if a new minimum wage is imposed.
A representative from the Small Business Administration said while small business owners are varied in their response to raising the minimum wage, they're all concerned about what it could mean for their business.
Advocates for raising the minimum wage make a distinction between minimum wage and the living wage, which is what you would need to make to afford to live in your area.
See what the minimum wage in your community is.