One Fair Wage Act
For too long, Pennsylvania has allowed the bare minimum to be paid to countless workers. Pennsylvania's low-wage earners have suffered long enough from poor wages, and with inflation at a 40-year high, the issue of stagnant wages is more urgent than ever. Now is the time to start making Pennsylvania’s workers our top priority.
I have been fighting for a fair minimum wage since 2014, yet every one of my bills has been roadblocked by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Within the last decade, my colleagues and I have introduced several bills to raise the minimum wage, yet none have passed through the Republican majority house or the committees they have controlled. My last bill, HB 345, never made it out of the Labor Committee.
My legislation, the ONE FAIR WAGE ACT, would provide Pennsylvania’s workers, businesses, and economy with much-needed relief. Our economy needs a boost and one way to make that happen is to put more money in the hands of our lowest-paid workers. This increase would provide a pay raise for countless Pennslvanians and get more money circulating into our economy. It’s a win-win for workers and business owners.
It’s time that Pennsylvania takes this matter into our own hands rather than waiting on the federal government to act. It’s time to raise the minimum wage to at least $12 to keep up with neighboring states and ensure our Commonwealth’s prosperity.
- By incrementally raising the minimum wage, low wage earners will see increased living standards, social mobility, and educational and advancement opportunities.
- The Pennsylvania minimum wage was last changed in 2008 when it was raised $0.10 from $7.15 to $7.25.
- The minimum wage is higher in every single state surrounding Pennsylvania.
- According to the MIT Living Wage calculator, a single adult in Pennsylvania needs to earn $13.39 per hour to support themself and a single adult with one child needs $27.57 per hour to support their family.
- Improving incomes will allow many people, especially women, parents, and people of color to better afford their needs, like housing, groceries, transportation, and childcare.
- Women earning the minimum wage outnumber men earning the minimum wage by 2 to 1 in Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage is not just a worker issue, it is a women's issue.
- The One Fair Wage Act amends section (4)(a) of the Minimum Wage Act to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $12.00 per hour upon the effective date of the act. The minimum wage will increase 50 cents every year until it reaches $15.
- Reducing government spending and reliance on government programs
- When employers don’t pay people enough to survive, those workers are compelled to seek government assistance, meaning taxpayers are essentially subsidizing the corporations. In 2016, the Economic Policy Institute found that, among recipients of public assistance, most work or have a family member who works; and they are concentrated at the bottom of the pay scale. Raising wages for low-wage workers would reduce net spending on public assistance, particularly among workers likely to be affected by a federal minimum-wage increase.
- Addressing inflation
- Since it was last raised in 2008, the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation, failed to keep up with average wages, and failed to keep up with the incomes of the top 1 percent and CEOs, contributing to America’s growing inequality crisis. Just 30 years ago, the average pay gap between CEOs and workers was 59 to 1; by 2018, it had soared to 361 to 1. As a result, low-wage workers are not benefiting from economic growth and productivity. If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity increases, it would be around $24 an hour according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
- Boosting our economy
- The additional money paid to workers would be pumped back into the economy for necessities such as rent, food, and clothes. Economists have long recognized that boosting purchasing power by putting money in people’s pockets for consumer spending has positive ripple effects on the entire economy.
- Strengthening small businesses
- Pennsylvania is still recovering from workforce shortages in the aftermath of Covid-19. Business owners are facing staffing shortages while workers are moving to other states for higher wages and better living standards. As states and cities across the country have raised wages, research has found no statistically significant effect on employment. Ensuring workers are paid fairly will only strengthen our workforce and ensure a healthy labor market to keep our businesses open.