ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — There are growing calls across the country and right here in Maryland to raise the minimum wage. Struggling families are making an emotional plea to politicians.

Adam May has an in-depth look at the issue.

Politicians are deadlocked in a debate over how to fix the economy. Meanwhile, the working class is becoming the working poor.

Baltimore’s City Hall was packed with people demanding a raise in the minimum wage. Bruce Gross recently lost his construction job. Now he’s raising a daughter and twin sons on $7.25 an hour.

“I can’t even raise my kids and family on that money. I go through months of deciding if I should pay bills or get food in the house for the children,” Gross said.

A proposal in Congress calls to increase the current minimum wage to just under $10 an hour by 2014. It’s tied into the Rebuild America Act, which also calls for massive investments in infrastructure and schools to create new jobs, partly paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Minimum wage supporters are calling for action now.

“We’re clawing and struggling to get to the middle and I feel like they should be thinking `How can we help?'” said Lisa Lucas-Alston, Good Jobs, Better Baltimore.

There’s no question middle class families are falling behind. Their salaries have increased 35 percent in four decades while the wealthiest have seen a 278 percent increase.

“It is absolutely destroying the fiber of our democracy,” said Cindy Walsh.

Walsh is a progressive activist.

“We will see this continue if we don’t put our foot down to this idea of free market globalization as the answer to domestic hiring,” Walsh said.

President Barack Obama and Democrats support raising the minimum wage. Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans do not. They claim it could slow job growth.

The Gross family feels caught in the middle.

“I want my dignity back,” Gross said. “We’re struggling. We cannot make it. I need help raising my family.”

Gross isn’t looking for a handout–he wants a brighter future for his family.

There are conflicting studies when it comes to raising the minimum wage and job creation. Some say it slows growth; others say it does not.

When you account for inflation, the minimum wage has fallen 20 percent since 1967.

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