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State’s minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 for more than 10 years
A new report has shed light on who would benefit most in Pennsylvania from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.
More than 1.3 million workers would see higher paychecks, said report author Claire Kovach, a senior research analyst for the Keystone Research Center.
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour for more than a decade, and the state has lost significant buying power in that time. Kovach said the data analyzes the potential impact of a higher minimum wage based on demographics such as age, race, education, gender and industry.
“Women disproportionately benefit from a $15-per-hour minimum wage,” she said. “This is because women are disproportionately working low-wage jobs, especially low-wage service jobs. We break the demographics out by race to show that people of color are 31 percent of who would benefit from this $15-per-hour minimum wage.”
Kovach said one in four workers who would see higher paychecks are in crucial sectors such as education, health care, hospitality and social work. However, backers of the current minimum wage have said increasing it would be difficult for small business owners, who might then have to cut jobs or raise prices.
It would be up to the General Assembly to set the minimum wage, and Kovach noted that last year, the House passed House Bill 1500 to raise it to $15 an hour by 2026. She said the idea has bipartisan support, but the Senate has not yet acted on a similar bill, Senate Bill 743.
“So, what lawmakers can do in this session is to really reach out and listen to their constituents, because raising the minimum wage is not unpopular legislation,” Kovach said. “Every single state that borders Pennsylvania has raised their minimum wage.”
She added that polling in the state has shown overwhelming support for a higher minimum wage, and said better pay also has the potential to shrink gender and racial pay gaps, at least to some extent.
Danielle M. Smith is a producer for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. An award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media, she is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks who also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on WGBN (1360 AM/98.9 FM).
Originally published February 03, 2024.