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Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Remains Unchanged, Despite Rises in Neighboring States

Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Remains Unchanged, Despite Rises in Neighboring States

In 2022, the minimum wage will rise in a record number of states, but not in Pennsylvania.

Since 2009, when it was raised to match the federal rate, the state’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25.

The larger picture: According to the National Employment Law Project, 25 states and 56 cities will raise their minimum salaries by the end of 2022. In many regions, the minimum wage will be $15 per hour or more.

Except for West Virginia, every state bordering Pennsylvania is hiking minimum wages.

On July 1, the minimum salaries in New York and New Jersey will rise to $10.30 per hour, while Maryland’s jumps to $9.25. The wage will go up again in Pennsylvania on January 1, 2019.

Pennsylvania is one of only 20 states that does not have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal amount.

Increase the magnification: The state-mandated minimum wage of $7.25 does not apply to minimum wages set by businesses or the city of Philadelphia.

Starting July 1, city employees, contractors, and subcontractors will be paid $15 per hour.

The minimum wage for state employees and contractors will also increase by 50 cents this year, with the goal of reaching $15 an hour by 2024.

According to the numbers: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the Philadelphia region earned an average hourly income of $29.04 in May 2020, which was almost 7% higher than the national average of $27.07.
The Philadelphia region also has higher pay than the national average for lower-wage jobs like food preparation, maintenance labor, and building cleaning.

According to the University of Washington’s Center for Women’s Welfare, a family of two adults and two children needs an annual income of at least $74,888 to survive in Philadelphia without aid.

According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, residents earning the minimum wage or less are disproportionately Black and women, and are more likely to be concentrated in low-income households.

What they’re saying: According to Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the nonpartisan policy research firm Keystone Research Center, business groups opposed to raising the minimum wage have more clout in the state’s Republican-led legislature than workers.

“Lawmakers are more concerned with what they hear from those business interests than with their voters earning a living wage,” he said.

Zoom in: Herzenberg believes that raising the minimum wage will increase pay for higher-paid workers and, in certain cases, create new jobs.

At a time when Pennsylvania firms are struggling to recruit labor, he cautioned that low-wage workers could migrate to neighboring states with greater compensation.

According to Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, Republicans in the state House think market factors should drive hikes in the minimum wage.

“Today’s job seekers in Pennsylvania have more bargaining power and higher wages, demonstrating that now is not the time for further government meddling and constraints on Pennsylvania’s small company job creators,” he said.

The bottom line: Pennsylvania’s minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour until 2022, when it will rise to $7.75 an hour. Meanwhile, workers in neighboring states will be paid more than the federal minimum wage.