For the past 4 years, Democrats have tried to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, and have been blocked by Republicans. Is the fifth time the charm? In this year’s budget, Governor Wolf has proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12.00, with additional increases to bring the wage to $15.00 in 2025.
Across Pennsylvania, the great majority of those who would directly benefit from a higher minimum wage are adults (about 90%), and about a quarter are parents. For many, wages are so low that they don’t even cover rent and the cost of getting around, contributing to homelessness and forcing working people to rely on food banks. Putting more in the pockets of these folks gives them greater ability to afford the basics of life. And people working at the minimum are not the only ones who would benefit. Experience in other states shows that an increase in the minimum wage raises pay not just for minimum wage workers but for many with higher wages. Further, a higher minimum wage would generate more spending at local businesses – helping them.
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is more than a dollar below the wage in each of our neighboring states (see map). Based on those states, there’s no evidence that increasing the minimum wage will lead to job cuts. To the contrary – a recent study of the food service industry showed that both wages and employment are growing faster in our neighbors than in Pennsylvania.
A Franklin & Marshall poll in March of this year showed that nearly 70% of Pennsylvanians believe the minimum wage should be higher, proving that this is not just a Philadelphia issue. Mark Price of the Keystone Research Center attributed Pennsylvania’s lower minimum wage to our politics: “We don’t have the same voter referendum process that other states do, so you have to go through the General Assembly.” But why should the General Assembly not be responsive to the demands of our citizens?
This is just one reason why turning PA blue is so important! We need progressive legislators across this state, and a majority in Harrisburg who will support Governor Wolf on raising the minimum wage. This year, that means laying the foundation by electing Democrats to municipal offices that are currently controlled by Republicans. Make plans to join us in canvassing suburban voters this Summer!