Royal Oak Democrat Dave Woodward has launched an online petition drive at www.raisemichigan.com to push state lawmakers to hike Michigan's $7.40 an hour minimum wage.
Woodward said Friday that tax policies of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP majority in the state House and Senate have rewarded corporations and hurt the middle class to the point that the state's minimum wage is poverty level.
"Right now, minimum wage workers and middle class families are doing their taxes and they're finding their taxes going up because of policies by Gov. Snyder and Republicans in Lansing," Woodward said. "It's long overdue that Michigan families get a raise and raising the minimum wage helps do that."
Woodward referenced a survey by the Democrat-leaning group Progress Michigan that claims 70 percent of Michigan residents favor an increase in the state's minimum wage, including 34.2 percent who favor a minimum wage of $10 an hour or higher.
"Seventy percent support an increase," Woodward said. "That's more popular than any politician right now."
The last time the minimum wage was increased was 2006.
Woodward said raising the minimum wage isn't a partisan issue since Republicans controlled the state House and Senate the last time the minimum wage was increased.
Republicans currently control both legislative chambers.
"The ball's in their court now," Woodward said.
The push for a higher minimum wage was launched as the U.S. Labor Department released a jobs report Friday that showed just 88,000 jobs were created nationally in March, a number that rattled financial markets because it was lower than anticipated, even as the national unemployment rate declined a bit to 7.6 percent.
In Michigan, the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent.
But official unemployment rates count only people looking for work in the past four weeks.
Another gauge of unemployment includes people who are underemployed and have stopped looking for work. Nationally and in Michigan, that rate remains in double digits.
Critics of a higher minimum wage claim it costs jobs, but Democrats reject that. President Barack Obama called for a higher minimum wage in his State of the Union address in February, asking for $9 an hour nationally by 2015.
Woodward said it's safe to say that jobs and the economy will be the No. 1 issue heading into the 2014 election, when the governor and all 148 members of the state legislature are up for election.
"Jobs is the No. 1 issue every day, and jobs that ensure people can meet their financial obligations," Woodward said. "If you work full-time, you shouldn't be living in poverty, period."