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U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage


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

U.S. Senator Robert Casey supports legislation to increase federal minimum wage


REGION, May 6th- On April 30th Democratic Pennsylvania United States Senator Robert Casey Jr., joined by 33 fellow Senators, introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Mr. Casey stated the wage increase would help more American families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

The legislation, “the Raise the Wage Act”, would also phase out the $2.13 tipped wage and would index the minimum wage to median wages.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. In January of this year twenty states in the nation increased their bench-mark however minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania are still earning the federal level. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, with more than 1.2 million Pennsylvania workers estimated earning the $7.25 an hour wage. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is now lower than every neighboring state. Overall, more than 26 states now have a higher bench-mark wage than Pennsylvania.

It is estimated that raising the bench-mark wage to $10.10 an hour would boost spending in the state by $1.8 billion, and create 6,000 jobs, a new study released by the Keystone Research Center, a economic research group in Harrisburg indicated.

The Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) labor federation in Harrisburg supports the increasing of the minimum wage, whether through federal legislation or through the Pennsylvania legislators.

“By passing legislation to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, not only will over one million working families get a much needed raise in their wages, it will help boost the local economies of communities across Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage will not only fight poverty, it will increase profits for local businesses because every dollar goes right back into the local economy,” stated Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylavnia AFL-CIO.

“It has been nearly eight years since Congress last passed a minimum wage increase. It’s time to deliver for working families and raise the wage. It’s important to remember that many of those paid the minimum wage are single mothers who are the sole providers for their household. Raising the wage and indexing it will have a substantial impact for these workers and their children,” Mr. Casey stated.

Mr. Casey estimates that the annual pay raise for the eligible workers would be $3,100 by 2020. Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey was not one of the Senators that co-sponsored the legislation to increase the minimum wage and likley would vote against it.

Passage of the bill is unlikely with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Republicans and their bussiness supporters claim that raising the bench-mark would kill nearly one million jobs. However, the United States Labor Department data shows average job growth in states that increased their bench-mark was higher than those that have not.