Leftist US senator Bernie Sanders introduced a Bill on Thursday (May 4) to raise the minimum wage to US$17 an hour, reigniting the battle for better federal pay standards as workers see pandemic-era gains erased by runaway inflation.

The US$7.25 federal floor has not increased since 2009, and the dollar has since lost almost a third of its purchasing power, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Sanders, a former presidential candidate, has been campaigning for years for a hike but has seen little success in Congress, amid opposition from conservatives who say mandated hikes hurt small business and worsen inflation.