Pennsylvania in dire need of a minimum wage increase
Everything in Pennsylvania – at least from a consumer, renter or commuter’s standpoint – is on the rise.
The cost of housing is skyrocketing, as is the cost of daily household products. Inflation, cost-push or demand-pull induced, has dealt a tremendous blow to the economy, sending shockwaves through residents’ pockets statewide.
Working-class Pennsylvanians have been hit hard, especially those who are dependent on the minimum wage for their livelihood.
It’s a struggle I see in my district and across Allegheny County every day. We as legislators need to do more, which is why I have and will continue to advocate for a substantial increase to the state’s minimum wage.
To be transparent, Pennsylvania has had minimum wage increases in the past, such as in 2006, where the minimum wage went from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour. In 2009, the minimum wage was raised to $7.25. But it’s simply not enough.
Legislators recently have made attempts to raise the state minimum wage with the introduction of H.B. 1520 in 2017. This legislation aimed to raise the state minimum wage to $12 at the beginning of 2019, with an overall increase of $15 an hour to be reached by 2024.
Opponents of an increase to the state minimum wage claim it will wreak havoc on small businesses, however the research points to quite the opposite.
According to the Keystone Research Center, raising the minimum wage benefits small businesses by “extending a competitive advantage to those that have a profitable business that already pays a livable wage.” It would also enhance consumer spending, which provides the building blocks for a sustainable, prosperous local economy.
Despite this information, legislators at the state Capitol remain deadlocked on this issue while neighboring states reap the benefits.
Pennsylvania is one of 21 states that didn’t require employers to pay a wage higher than the federal minimum wage. The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics show that all of Pennsylvania’s neighbors – Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Delaware – all pay a wage higher than the federal minimum wage, with Delaware and West Virginia ringing in at $8.75 an hour, and New York capping out at $11.10 an hour.
It’s encouraging that our neighbors understand the importance of providing a livable wage for individuals who are dependent on the minimum wage. We must do more!