HARRISBURG – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier was joined by Senator Jay Costa, Rep. Sara Innamorato and bartender and server Richard Gegick on Monday to call for an increase to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12 per hour with a path to $15 and an elimination of the tipped wage to provide One Fair Wage to all workers to benefit working families and local economies.
“Moreover, many employees in the service industry make a lower tipped wage of only $2.83. Hardworking Pennsylvanians deserve better. We need a $15 minimum wage, and we need to eliminate the tipped wage and provide one fair wage to all workers.”
Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour with a pathway to $15 by 2027, boosting incomes for nearly 1.1 million workers and putting $4.4 billion into the pockets of Pennsylvania workers in the first year.
Wolf says raising the wage to $12 an hour will inject an additional $116 million into Pennsylvania’s economy; an increase to $15 will bolster Pennsylvania’s economy by $321 million in 2027.
“It is unconscionable and unfathomable that Pennsylvania still permits an individual to work a full time job that subjects them to poverty,” said Costa. “We should all be embarrassed of our minimum wage and our lack of progress, even as every state surrounding us has raised its wage at least once. It’s time to restore dignity to Pennsylvania work and workers by raising wages to a rate where an individual can afford to live.”
The commonwealth’s outdated minimum wage is $7.25, the lowest allowed by federal law. Every neighboring state of Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage.
There are eight states on a path to $15, including Florida, a red state. Despite doing the same job, Pennsylvanians are now earning less than half of the workers in these states, state officials say.
Currently, Pennsylvania has a separate and lower tipped minimum wage of only $2.83. One fair wage for all workers would benefit 65 percent of all tipped workers, the majority of which are women, and require employers to provide the full minimum wage with non-discriminatory tips on top. Eight states, including the red states of Alaska, Montana, and Nebraska, have eliminated the tipped minimum wage and have one fair wage for everyone.
“We’ve called the hardworking Pennsylvanians who cook our takeout, care for our sick, stock our grocery store shelves, and educate our young children essential throughout this pandemic,” said Innamorato.
“These are the workers who kept our economy going, yet nearly half of all these essential workers make less than $15/hour. They are deserving of our praise, but now it’s time to PAY them with the wage they deserve.”
Key findings from the Keystone Research Center show the workers who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage include:
- 76 percent age 20 or older (850,657 workers);
- 27 percent age 40 or older (299,715 workers);
- 13 percent age 55 or older (154,730 workers);
- 38 percent working fulltime (426,966 workers); and
- 62 percent women (691,122 workers).
Since the last time the minimum wage was increased, its purchasing power has dropped by nearly 17 percent.