When we help working families, we ensure a Pennsylvania that works for all of us
House Democrats join Gov. Tom Wolf in working for a minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania. Gov. Wolf jump-started that effort in March 2016 by signing an executive order increasing the wage to $10.15 for about 450 low-wage state workers. His 2017-18 budget proposal asks the legislature to increase the minimum wage for all Pennsylvania minimum wage workers to $12 per hour.
The legislature should focus on working families trying to make ends meet. A wage boost for the 1 million-plus Pennsylvanians trying to afford rent, groceries and other necessities on the current minimum of $7.25 would ensure a Pennsylvania that works for ALL of us, not just the wealthy few. Public support for a minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania is above 70 percent.
Raising the wage is about fairness for working families and boosting Pennsylvania's economy. Every state around Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of low-wage workers, money that would be spent on goods and services in our small businesses.
The Economic Policy Institute reports that raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania would boost demand and productivity, create as many as 5,000 new jobs and have an economic impact in Pennsylvania worth more than $1 billion. It would also boost revenues for the state budget by tens of millions of dollars – an important consideration as we try to find ways to fund education and fix the state's growing structural deficit.
A Scranton Times-Tribune editorial noted that in northeastern Pennsylvania, where nearly a quarter of minimum wage earners are married or single parents, low wages are contributing to that region's economic hardship. A 40-hour work week at the minimum wage still leaves a parent and child in poverty.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the Mid-Atlantic and most of the entire Northeast not to have raised its minimum wage. That needs to change.