Hundreds of activists took to the streets in downtown Knoxville Thursday to protest what they say are unfair wages.

The protest, and subsequent march, was one of a number that took place across the country on "International Workers Day."

The message of the protesters was "put the people first".

RELATED: Senate fails to advance minimum-wage hike

They feel state and federal lawmakers need to do more to support the middle class and low wage workers.

"The folks who are in office aren't taking any action," said organizer Thomas Walker.

They want the state to impose a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. That total is currently the lowest amount of money an employer can pay a worker, per hour, in Tennessee.

Congressional Budget Office: The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income

"I think it's pretty hard [to live on minimum wage]." Walker said. "If you've ever tried to survive on $7.25 an hour, you know what we're talking about."

According to USA Today, in order to afford a two bedroom unit and keep 70 percent of their income, a Tennessee minimum wage employee must work at least 77 hours a week.

At that rate, they would earn a little more than $29,000 each year before taxes.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander joined the majority of the United States Senate in voting against a measure that would consider increasing the country's minimum wage.

He reasoned such a move would make it more expensive to create jobs and ultimately impose one more burden on the nation's job creators.

"On the most important issue facing the country, surely we can do better than the stale, bankrupt idea we will vote on this week that according to the office that we're supposed to trust for advice," said Alexander in a statement. "The Congressional Budget Office, says would No. 1: Destroy 500,000 jobs; No. 2: Concentrate most of the benefits on those above the poverty line; No. 3: Make it more expensive to create jobs; and No. 4: Tax only some taxpayers for a policy designed to benefit the entire society."

The Congressional Budget Office predicts if the federal minimum wage were to increase to $9 in 2016, the nation would lose 100,000 jobs.

RELATED: Corker breaks with GOP colleagues over minimum wage

Sen. Bob Corker voted for the measure. He said he wanted to see the country's discussion on living wages continue.

"While I think the underlying policy is problematic, I think we should always debate ways to help improve the standard of living of Americans," Corker said.

WBIR 10News reached out to Governor Haslam's office late Thursday afternoon on the wages issue, but did not get a response.

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