1.34 million Pennsylvanians would benefit from increase in minimum wage, according to new report

Minimum Wage

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 25: Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the Capitol complex on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, to call on Congress to pass the $15 federal minimum wage hike proposed as part of the COVID relief bill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

February 1, 2024

A new report highlights that 1.34 million Pennsylvanians would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. It also found that 84% of those who would benefit are adults. 

A new report looking into the benefits of raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania was released by the Keystone Research Center, a progressive-leaning think tank, on Thursday. 

“In this report, we dispel some really persistent myths,” Claire Kovach, a senior research analyst for the Keystone Research Center, told reporters through a call with the press on Thursday.

“One of which is that only teenagers stand to benefit from a $15 minimum wage, which is far from reality shown in our data drawn from the US Census Bureau and the Economic Policy Institute.”

The report estimates that 1.34 million Pennsylvanians would benefit from a $15 minimum wage increase. It goes on to state that 776,000 residents would directly benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, meaning that they would see their pay increase to the new minimum wage, and an additional 568,000 residents would be indirectly affected by the increase, meaning that their wages would see a slight increase if they are already making over $15 per hour. 

More than half of those who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage are between the ages of 20 and 39. The data shows that teenagers, those 19 and under, account for 16% of those who would benefit from raising the minimum wage, which disputes Republican talking points that minimum wage is meant to be a starter wage for teenagers.

Women, who are disproportionately represented in low-paying jobs, would also benefit significantly from raising the minimum wage. They represent over 60% of the workers who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage.

“In this report, it would effectively raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour,” State Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) told reporters. 

“It would affect about 7,000 workers in my district, even though our unemployment rate is low in Pennsylvania, it’s about 3.5%. From my vantage point as a state representative, I’ve seen an increase in traffic at our local food banks, and I believe it’s because our wages are still low and still not meeting the basic needs for our families.”

Pennsylvania House Democrats passed House Bill 1500 in June, which would have incrementally raised the minimum wage in three steps by Jan. 1 2026 and then peg the minimum wage to inflation starting on Jan. 1, 2027, but hasn’t seen any action by Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate. 

The last time the commonwealth experienced an increase in the minimum wage was in 2009 when the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour. Since then, every state that surrounds Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage than the commonwealth. 

“In my district, there are more than 6,000 workers who are working for the minimum wage,” State Rep. Justin Flemming said on Thursday’s call. 

“If you are a lower income individual, you are more likely to not get the healthcare you need, not be able to afford to visit the doctor or get the treatment you need. So it has all of these downstream effects.”


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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