Minimum wage debate reignites across the U.S.

LOS ANGELES -- On Tuesday, New York became the first state in the nation to adopt a sweeping increase in the minimum wage for public employees. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the order raising the minimum for state government workers from an hourly rate of $8.75 to $15.00 per hour starting in 2018.

Tuesday was also the day minimum wage protests were organized around the country.

Protesters took over a McDonalds in downtown Los Angeles, demanding a $15.00 per hour federal minimum wage.

"It's very difficult. You can't even make it basically. I have to turn to government assistance for help -- basically for MediCal, food stamps -- to help be able to pay rent and provide food for my family, of course," said Chantel Williams who has worked at Taco Bell for nine years and makes $9.00 an hour - the minimum wage in Los Angeles County.

At 40 hours a week, Williams - a single mother of two young boys - makes less than $19,000 per year. Government guidelines say a family of three like hers needs to make more than $20,000 to live above the poverty line. A minimum wage of $15.00 an hour would mean Williams could earn about $31,000.

But some business owners say low -wage fast food jobs are not meant to be lifelong employment, and a 67 percent increase in the minimum wage will mean job cuts.

"A lot of businesses are scared - [a] $1 an hour increase for a full-time employee will end up costing each employer actually about $2,500 per employee, so that's pretty significant," said Stuart Waldman who leads a business advocacy group in California.

Many cities and states across the country already have a minimum wage higher than the federal level. Here in Los Angeles, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $15.00 dollars per hour by 2020.