Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the US Capitol complex in February 2021, to call on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. (CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images/Bill Clark) Fight for $15 Rally
Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the US Capitol complex in February 2021, to call on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. (CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images/Bill Clark)

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania has remained the same since 2009, despite state legislators introducing seven bills in an attempt to raise it.

The current minimum wage is “unacceptable,” said state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, an outspoken supporter of raising the minimum wage.

For years, the Philadelphia Democrat has introduced bills proposing an increase. The majority-GOP state Legislature has passed none of them.

This year was no different. Tartaglione introduced two bills, and hers were among seven bills legislators introduced to raise the minimum wage. All of the bills are still sitting in committees.

“We need to break the cycle of poverty in this state,” Tartaglione said. “A fair, equitable, and family-sustaining wage benefits us all. We need to make an investment in our economic future.”

History of Minimum Wage in PA

The minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per 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.

The closest the state Legislature came to raising the minimum wage in the last decade was in 2019, when the state Senate approved Senate Bill 79, which would have raised the minimum wage to $8 an hour, with an additional $0.50 every year until it reached $9.50 per hour. The bill died in the state House Labor and Industry Committee.

Who Earns the Minimum Wage in Pennsylvania

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. 

When you think of someone in the workforce earning minimum wage, you probably picture a teenager at an after-school job.

It’s a common misconception many people have.

In reality, 82% of minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania are over the age of 20. More than half are women and 46% work full time.

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.

Recent Efforts to Raise the Minimum Wage

This year, state legislators proposed seven new bills aimed at raising the minimum wage and one bill proposing a statewide ballot question:

House Bill 15

State Rep. Chriss Rabb (D-Philadelphia) introduced House Bill 15 in March. It proposes immediately raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour and then increasing it incrementally to $15 an hour by 2027. After 2027, the wage is raised annually by a cost-of-living adjustment.

The bill is sitting in the House Labor and Industry Committee. 

House Bill 345

State Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) introduced House Bill 345 in April; it is the companion bill to Tartaglione’s SB 12. It proposes immediately raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour with incremental increases each year after that until it reaches $15 an hour in 2027.

The bill is sitting in the House Labor and Industry Committee.

House Bill 923

State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Philadelphia) introduced House Bill 923 in March. It proposes that municipalities set a localized minimum wage based on the cost of living for the area and other factors.

The bill is sitting in the House Labor and Industry Committee.

House Bill 1646

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) House Bill 1646 in June. It proposes a non-binding statewide ballot question: “should the minimum wage in this commonwealth be raised from $7.25 per hour of work to $15 per hour of work?”

The bill is sitting in the House Labor and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 12

Tartaglione introduced Senate Bill 12 in February. This bill was previously SB 12 in the 2019-20 session. It proposes immediately raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, with incremental increases each year after that until it reaches $15 an hour in 2027.

The bill is sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 332

Tartaglione also introduced Senate Bill 332 in March. This bill was previously SB 78 in the 2019-20 session. It proposes immediately raising the tipped minimum wage—which is currently $2.83 an hour—to $3.95 an hour. It would then increase to 70% of the minimum wage the next year—which would be $5.07 if the minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour. After that, the tipped wage would be linked to the minimum wage, rising as it rises.

The bill is sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 625

State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) introduced Senate Bill 625 in May. According to a memo to all Senate members from Fontana, if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be close to $12 an hour today, which is 65% higher than Pennsylvania’s current rate. 

This bill proposes immediately raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour. Starting July 1, 2022, it would increase 2% every year for six years, or until 2027. After that, the yearly increase would drop to 1%.

The bill is sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.

Senate Bill 672

State Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh) introduced Senate Bill 672 in May. It would immediately raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and provide for a yearly adjustment for inflation by an amount not to exceed an annual cost-of-living increase.

The bill also would raise the tipped minimum wage to 40% of the minimum wage—which would be $4 if the minimum wage was $10 an hour.

The bill is sitting in the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.