Governor Wolf, Legislators and Business Owners Call for Minimum Wage Increase
May 26, 2021
1.1 million workers benefit with path to $15 minimum wage
Six in ten workers getting a raise are women
Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians support the minimum wage increase
Governor Tom Wolf was joined by legislators, business owners and advocates today to call on the General Assembly to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12 an hour with a path to $15. More than 1 million workers would get a boost in their paychecks, which creates new customers for businesses and strengthens the economy for everyone.
“This isn’t about pitting workers against business owners, because businesses also stand to benefit from a higher minimum wage,” said Gov. Wolf. “Increasing the minimum wage puts more money into the pockets of workers, which gives local businesses more customers. Boosting wages also increases productivity and decreases turnover.”
The governor’s plan increases the state’s embarrassingly low minimum wage to $12 per hour on July 1, with annual increases of $0.50 until reaching $15 per hour on July 1, 2027. Nearly 1.1 million workers would get a raise, which would add $4.4 billion to the state’s economy.
The governor was joined for a press conference in Lancaster by Rep. Patty Kim, prime sponsor of HB 345 to raise the minimum wage, and local business owners Peter Barber, President, CEO and Co-owner of Two Dudes Painting Company and Jennie Groff, CEO and Co-owner of Stroopies, Inc.
Strong Public Support
Raising the wage has strong public support. A Franklin & Marshall College poll released in March found 67 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters support raising the minimum wage to $12 as the governor is proposing.
Eight other states are on path to $15, including red states. In the November 2020 election, voters in Florida – which has a Republican governor and legislature and voted for President Trump – passed a constitutional amendment to raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2026. President Biden also recently took executive action to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors and tipped employees to $15. Overall, 29 other states, including every state that borders Pennsylvania, have raised the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“We’ve been in business for almost 35 years, and fair pay has been central to our success,” said Peter Barber, CEO of Two Dudes Painting Company in Lancaster, a full service painting company with more than 65 employees. “Our turnover is low, which saves us money and time. More experienced employees do better quality work, are more reliable, and provide better customer service. Raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 by 2027 will strengthen businesses and our economy.”
“Our experience as a small company demonstrates that paying livable wages is not only doable, it is good for business,” said Jennie Groff, CEO of Stroopies, Inc. a Lancaster food manufacturer in retail, wholesale and online distribution with 18 employees. “When your workers are cared for, they’ll be your biggest assets. $7.25 an hour is too low to live on. By raising the minimum wage, we will invest in our workers, support the growth of our businesses, and build a stronger Pennsylvania.”
Barber and Groff are members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.
Closing the pay gap
Raising the minimum wage to $15 will create stronger financial stability for women and persons of color across the commonwealth. Six in ten workers getting a pay boost are women, which represents nearly 24 percent of all women in the state. Additionally, a $15 wage floor would directly benefit 35 percent of Hispanic workers, 29 percent of Black workers and 18 percent of Asian workers. Seventy-five percent of the workers are age 20 or older and nearly 40 percent work full-time, which refutes harmful stereotypes by making clear that hundreds of thousands of adults are stuck making poverty wages
Rural workers gain the most from raising the minimum wage. The highest percentage of workers getting a raise with a $15 minimum wage are in 29 rural counties, according to findings from the Keystone Research Center. We must not allow any Pennsylvania worker to be left behind as other states raise wages for their working families.
Workers keep their jobs as states raise the minimum wage.
A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that as New York state gradually raising its minimum wage to $15, wages are increasing without jobs losses. Low-wage workers living in New York along the Pennsylvania border saw their pay increase by more than 25 percent, while the wages of Pennsylvania workers in the northern tier rose only 15 percent.