Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind


JANUARY 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners fall further behind


REGION, January 2nd- On Thursday January 2015 twenty states in the nation increased their minimum wage law however, workers in Pennsylvania are still receiving the federal wage of $7.25 an hour. And most likely, the federal wage will not be increased over the next two years, while the Republican party holds the majority in both chambers of the Congress in Washington DC.

With the election season over and the Republican party being successful in strengthening their ability to have legislation passed through both sides of the Pennsylvania General Assembly by gaining seats in both chambers of the legislature, raising the minimum wage for state workers becomes even more complicated and unlikely.

The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009 and some states have tired of waiting for the Republicans in Washington to support an increase and have began raising their bench-mark wage above the federal wage.

The minimum wage covers most workers employed within many industries excluding some retail and service establishments and farms and also employ students at wages of no more than 15 percent below the minimum with proper certification.

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, approximately 26 states now have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania.

New Jersey’s minimum wage increased January 1st to $8.38 an hour. New Jersey voters approved a automatic annual cost-of-living increase in 2013.

The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Washington DC supports increasing the federal bench-mark to $10.10 an hour, which President Obama had proposed in his last two State of the Union addresses. However, Republicans in Washington, including incoming majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opposes an increase.

The Republicans and their business supporters continue to claim that raising the wage would kill between 500 thousand and one million jobs if the wage was increased.

But, according to data by the Department of Labor, job growth in the 13 states in 2014 that have increased their minimum wage was more robust than states that did not. Average job growth in states that increased the benchmark was 0.85 percent this year while in states that have not increase their wage was 0.61 percent.