Should the Pennsylvania minimum wage be increased from $7.25 per hour?
A pair of Keystone state senators think so. They just don’t agree on the increase.
Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) has introduced legislation seeking to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026. Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) says let’s move along a little faster, proposing a raise to $15 per hour beginning January 1, 2024.
Laughlin’s proposal calls for an increase to $11 per hour at the start of the new year and permanently index it to inflation thereafter.
“I have heard from my constituents and have listened to both sides of the political aisle,” he said. “Pennsylvania has not seen the minimum wage increase since it was hiked at the federal level in 2009. On average, a worker who earns minimum wage will only earn $15,000 per year. Due to the rising costs, workers are unable to pay for basic necessities and forced to rely on public assistance. It is time we address the issue and I believe this bill is the most responsible way to approach it.”
Tartaglione’s proposal provides for a yearly cost of living-adjusted increases thereafter. Additionally, her legislation sets the tipped wage in Pennsylvania to 70 percent of the minimum wage.
“The current minimum wage of $7.25 is inadequate and, in the midst of inflationary pressure, it is immoral to continue with this baseline rate of pay,” she said. “In 2022, 63,000 Pennsylvanians survived on the bare minimum and an additional 417,000 Pennsylvanians relied on hourly wages between $7.26 and $12. Vital members of our community, such as childcare, home health, retail, and hospitality workers, who work full-time while making the minimum wage only earn $15,080/year. These are some of the most fundamental jobs in our Commonwealth, yet the compensation for the hard work done by minimum and near-minimum wage earners is not sufficient to afford basic necessities such as rent, transportation, food, and prescriptions.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 30 states have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Fifteen states have or will have their minimum wage increase tied to the Consumer Price Index or other similar measures to provide automatic increases with inflation. The federal tipped minimum wage has been $2.13 per hour since 1991. Currently, 28 states have a higher tipped minimum wage rate above Pennsylvania’s current $2.83 per hour.