Our nation is in the midst of a wage crisis.

Though Americans continue to work each and every day, their hard-earned income simply isn’t worth what it once was. Over time, the value of the minimum wage has consistently decreased with the value of the dollar. Simply put, the value of a minimum wage earner’s annual income is less than it was in 1968. Economists universally agree that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce the number of Americans in poverty by $4.6 million and boost incomes by almost $2,000. I strongly support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Unfortunately, the $10.10 proposal will not gain traction with the Republican Party in Congress. Only truly bipartisan bills will pass in Congress. Yet, we must act. I have devised a unique compromise that will gain bipartisan support and serve as a remedy to this dire situation.

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I propose a two-tiered minimum wage. The first tier, the apprentice tier, will pay workers at either $7.25 an hour or the state minimum wage if it is higher. This tier is for high school and college students with limited to no experience that are working to give themselves spending money rather than sustain a family or financially support themselves.  The second tier, the top tier, will pay workers $10.10 per hour. This tier is for families and experienced workers as well as single mothers trying to raise a family. This system will ensure that those who truly need a wage increase get it while those who don’t still earn a fair wage.

Opponents would argue that businesses would then hire students rather than adults. However, their limited experience and high turnover rate would prevent employers from doing so. Why waste money to train a new student every few months when a business could just invest in one skilled worker?

I know that this system is not perfect. I do want more. But this will move the conversation forward. The status quo isn’t working. I’m prepared to compromise to get our nation moving again.

Mark Dunec is a professional problem-solver running for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District.