Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf have proposed an increase to the commonwealth’s minimum wage every year but the legislation never passes. With a new governor on the horizon, what is the future of the minimum wage in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
And it only got that high because Congress approved a federal minimum wage increase. The majority-GOP state Legislature did not want to raise the wage.
Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a minimum wage increase every year he’s been in office. And every year, the majority-GOP state Legislature has refused.
In 2020, 74,400 workers in the commonwealth earned the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or less (1.3% of all workers). Another 1.27 million workers in Pennsylvania earned between $7.25 and $15 per hour. The two groups combined represent 23% of the state’s workforce.
A person who works 40 hours per week at the minimum wage earns approximately $15,080 annually — just barely above the federal poverty line of $12,880 annually.
The future of the minimum wage now rests on who takes over as governor in November. Here’s where the candidates stand on the topic.
The lone Democratic candidate supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The former congressman and supporter of former President Donald Trump said he does support a minimal increase in the minimum wage, but did not specify how much of an increase.
The Montgomery County commissioner is opposed to raising the minimum wage. Gale believes market competition is the answer when it comes to a wage increase.
“I believe in free market capitalism where government should not set standards on wage rates,” he said. “I believe you let that open to the private sector and let them make those decisions, because, again, that will generate competition. They’ll compete over salaries based on performance, and that’s going to have greater economic growth.”
Charlie Gerow is opposed to raising the minimum wage.
“At Walmart and Sheetz, the starting wage is $15 to $16 an hour, more than twice the current minimum wage,” he said. “This is the result of the free market setting the minimum wage. We don’t need the government setting an artificial minimum wage, which would hurt some small businesses and cause some young people to lose their jobs.”
The former congresswoman’s stance on the minimum wage and whether or not she would support an increase are unclear.
The state Senator from Franklin County is against raising the minimum wage and believes doing so will hurt nonprofits and small businesses.
“That’s going to be a death knell to them,” Mastriano said. “The economy should drive the wages. Why can’t the economic drivers depict what’s the right wage for the right area?”
The former US Attorney under Trump has not said where he stands on increasing the minimum wage in the commonwealth.
Throughout his campaign, Dave White said he is a pro-business, pro-worker candidate but has not said whether he supports a minimum wage increase.
Nche Zama said raising the minimum wage depends on economic variables, the current market, and labor forces.
“Our economy is in a post-pandemic phase and experiencing tremendous fluxes,” Zama said. “Therefore determining a numerical wage value at this time would be socioeconomically unjustified and would represent nothing but political expediency.”
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