Keystone Research Reveals 1.34 Million Workers Would Benefit From Proposed PA Minimum Wage Increase

Fact sheets show how many would benefit in each county and legislative district and their demographics

HARRISBURG - The Keystone Research Center (KRC), a leading economic think tank, has released a new report titled "Who Benefits? The Demographic Impact of a Minimum Wage Increase in Pennsylvania." The report sheds light on the powerful benefits that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 would deliver to workers across the state. 

In tandem, KRC also released fact sheets with a breakdown of who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage by county and by state legislative district (here).

The research conducted by KRC shows that over 1.3 million workers in Pennsylvania would see their wages increase if the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour. This would not only reduce poverty rates but also help decrease gender and race pay disparities. The report highlights that a higher proportion of rural workers would directly benefit from the increased minimum wage because too many currently earn less than $15 per hour.

"Today’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage in Pennsylvania is simply not enough to ensure that workers can provide for themselves and their families," said Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director at Keystone Research Center. "Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 would not only improve the lives of millions of workers but also lead to a stronger and more equitable economy."

Five out of every six workers (84%) who would benefit from a proposed $15 by 2026 are adults 20 and over, not teenagers, and many have significant work experience. Over half of those who would benefit are between 20 and 39 years old, and a considerable number of those who would benefit (37%) have at least some education beyond high school.

According to the findings, workers across many industries stand to benefit from the proposed minimum wage increase. The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance sectors, which have shouldered a disproportionate burden during the COVID-19 pandemic, would see 25% of their workers benefit from the wage hike. Additionally, 26% of workers in the wholesale and retail trade industry, where nearly 1 in 4 workers earn less than $15 per hour, would experience a positive impact.

"It’s important for working families to know that they have lawmakers in Harrisburg that are looking out for them,” said Representative Dave Madsen (D-Dauphin County). “They have a state House that's advocating for them as well and some friends in the Senate that want to see wages go up. This report makes it clear that whether we should raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania should no longer be a question.”

KRC’s report emphasizes that raising the minimum wage is long overdue. Since 2009, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania has remained stagnant at $7.25 per hour due to legislative inaction. This failure to keep up with inflation has led to a decline in purchasing power for low-wage workers, particularly more family’s most essential needs such as housing, gasoline, and education.

“The fact that it’s now 15 years since the General Assembly raised the Pennsylvania minimum wage is a case of legislative malpractice,” said Representative Justin Fleming (D-Dauphin County). “Meanwhile, our neighboring states’ lawmakers have taken action to ensure their workers are paid enough to make ends meet. We must pass HB 1500 this year – hard-working families across the Commonwealth cannot wait any longer.”

The report also highlights that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 would inject more money into Pennsylvania's economy. Low-wage workers often spend all of their increased income and do so where they live, providing a boost to local businesses and communities. By linking future wage adjustments to inflation, the report argues that Pennsylvania's workers would no longer face the same stagnant wages in the future.

"Raising the minimum wage is not just about increasing income; it's about creating a strong foundation for working families to thrive,” said Angela Valvano, Executive Director of Better PA. “It is part of a comprehensive policy agenda that includes fair taxation, quality education, and economic empowerment for working families."

“This KRC report provides comprehensive and localized analysis of the impact of raising the minimum wage that backs up what I hear from my constituents every day,” said Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin County). “Working families are having a hard time making ends meet.  This report lets each lawmaker know how many of their constituents will benefit if we finally raise the wage. 2024 needs to be the year we get this across the finish line.” 

You can access the full report here.


The Keystone Research Center is a nonpartisan economic think tank dedicated to conducting research and advancing policies that promote shared prosperity and economic opportunity for all Pennsylvanians.