NEW YORK (CNN) - Raising the minimum wage is a hot button issue across the United States, and while lawmakers debate the hike in states and Congress, experts say that a wage hike would cause major ripple effects across all industries.
The Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan economic analysis agency, says that boosting the minimum wage nationally could mean higher pay for 4.6 million workers.
However, only 2.6 million of those would be the ones who currently make minimum wage.
The rest of those affected will be workers whose pay goes up because many business owners have a mix of employees who can't just raise the pay for their lowest-level workers. Those owners would have to raise the pay of more senior workers as well in an effort to keep their pay structure in place.
Federal minimum wage currently sits at $7.25 per hour, and many states have already enacted a higher one. In Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, legislation has been enacted that will raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour over the next several years.
In addition, 13 states boosted their minimum wages on New Year's Day, and the District of Columbia is considering a similar increase. The federal wage hasn't gone up since 2009.
While most low wage workers applaud a potential national minimum wage hike, critics and small business owners say that it could actually hurt job growth because it creates added costs for employers.