Pennsylvania’s budget deadline is looming on Thursday. Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for a minimum-wage increase that would get the state to $15 an hour by 2028.
A new brief gives a profile of the workers who would benefit.
The analysis from Keystone Research Center found an estimated 1.46 million Pennsylvania workers would see higher wages through the increase.
Keystone Research Center Senior Research Analyst Claire Kovach said the workers who would most benefit are the ones who were deemed essential during the pandemic, such as those in health care, retail, social services and more.
She said the state minimum wage has been stagnant for far too long.
“One of the minimum wage jobs that I worked 12 years ago is still advertised at $7.25 per hour today,” said Kovach. “So the minimum wage worker who stands where I stood a dozen years ago, they’re getting paid a wage with around 25% less buying power than I was back then.”
The increase to $15 by 2028 would amount to a $3,800 raise for the average-year round worker, Kovach said.
If passed, the gradual increase would start with a boost to $12 an hour in July. Opponents to a minimum wage increase are concerned about the costs to businesses.
The brief also finds that across the proposed minimum wage increase from July 2022 to July 2028, an estimated $30 billion would be put back into the state economy.
Kovach added that with inflation climbing and more Pennsylvanians experiencing financial insecurity, an increased minimum wage could be a lifeline for families.
“There’s an interesting thing that happens when you give low-wage workers a raise,” said Kovach. “They don’t store this money in off-shore accounts. This money is spent directly back into the economy and actually generates more economic movement and more economic benefits for communities than some other economic stimulus items.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage calculator shows that today, a single adult in Pennsylvania needs to earn nearly $17 per hour to support themselves – while a single adult with one child needs nearly $33 per hour to support their family.