- The minimum wage is a critical protection for workers—like the right to form unions, the social safety net, and a tax system that asks the rich to pay at a higher rate than the poor. These policies ensure that our economy works for all of us, not just the wealthy owners of huge corporations.
- We show respect for the dignity of work by ensuring all full-time workers are paid a decent wage that allows them to support themselves and their families. Opponents of a higher minimum wage want the work but won’t provide the dignity.
- Since 1947, workers’ share of the benefits of the United States economy has shrunk drastically. But our economy is more productive than ever. If the minimum wage had gone up with productivity increases since 1968, it would be over $23 per hour today. Most of us struggle while the wealthy owners of corporations grow ever richer.
- Our tax dollars subsidize wealthy corporations that fail to pay their workers a living wage by forcing workers to supplement their low wages with social safety net programs.
- Pennsylvania workers have fallen behind because the state hasn’t raised the minimum wage in more than 13 years. It is worth 27% less than it was in 2009, the last time it was raised nationally. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is now worth less than at any time since the mid-1950s.
- We need a higher minimum wage to protect workers whose incomes have fallen further behind as inflation has increased, in part, because corporations have ratcheted up prices to make record profits.
Every state around us is raising the minimum wage!
- Since 2014, 30 states and Washington, DC, have increased their minimum wage, including every state that borders Pennsylvania.
Raising the minimum wage dignifies the work of adults who head families.
- Raising the minimum wage benefits low-income workers, who now make below the proposed minimum wage, and those who make just above it because businesses typically raise the wages of workers making just above the new minimum wage so as not to lose them to competitors.
- KRC’s analysis of $15-per-hour minimum wage proposals shows that more than 80% of the workers who would see a pay raise are over age 18. These workers are disproportionately women and people of color, and many were “essential” workers during the height of the pandemic.
A higher minimum wage will create new jobs.
- Recent research by the NY Federal Reserve, KRC, and UC Berkeley economists is consistent with earlier research showing that raising the minimum wage doesn’t reduce jobs—in fact, it often creates new ones by increasing consumption.
Raising the minimum wage is good for local businesses and the economy—and this is the best possible time to do it.
- Higher wages for workers mean that they and their families will be spending more in their communities, boosting the local economy and helping Pennsylvania businesses. That is why dozens of economists have endorsed a minimum wage increase.
- Many small businesses can’t hire enough workers right now. They want to pay their employees more but are worried about being at a competitive disadvantage to businesses that pay less. Raising the minimum wage would create a higher wage floor, enabling all businesses to find the workers they need.
- Higher wages increase worker morale and productivity. They also reduce turnover and training costs, benefiting local businesses that are being pressed by the higher wholesale costs charged by large corporations.
Would raising the minimum wage increase prices?
Some prices may go up, but wages will increase faster than prices for a number of reasons.
- For example, the cost of a 12-inch, hand-tossed Domino’s pizza averages 1.5% more in the states around PA, even though the minimum wage averages 69% more.
- Wages are only part of the cost of doing business.
- Increased productivity and reduced training costs for employers hold price increases down.
The Impact of the Minimum Wage on the Price of Pizza
|Price of 12-inch, hand-tossed or thin-crust Domino’s Pizza||Price relative to Harrisburg||State minimum wage as of January 1, 2023||Minimum wage relative to Pennsylvania|
|Average difference between PA and surrounding states||1.52%||69.38%|
Pennsylvanians support a higher minimum wage.
- A May 2022 poll commissioned by the State Innovation Exchange found that 73% of Pennsylvanians support putting the state on a path to a $15-per-hour minimum wage. A majority of Pennsylvanians in every state House and Senate district, including the most Republican districts, agree.
Ending state preemption that prevents local communities from raising their minimum wage is needed to protect workers.
- The cost of living in many Pennsylvania counties—Philadelphia, Allegheny, Pike, and others—is far higher than the state average. Counties should have the option to account for these variations.
“One fair wage,” an end to the tipped minimum wage, is also needed to protect workers.
- In Pennsylvania, employers of workers who customarily receive tips are only required to pay their tipped workers a base wage of $2.83 per hour.
- Forcing workers to rely on tips also encourages sexual harassment in the workplace. One fair wage would protect all workers, especially women, from being abused by customers and employers.
For more information, contact: Marc Stier, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Policy Center; firstname.lastname@example.org, (215) 880-6142.