Report: 1.75 Million Pennsylvania Workers Make $15 or Less Per Hour

March 05, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today commented on the release of a new report that shows nearly half of Pennsylvania hourly-wage workers – more than 1.75 million Pennsylvanians – make less than $15 per hour, even as cost of living continues to increase. Governor Wolf said this report confirms the dire need for Pennsylvania to raise the minimum wage. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been unchanged in the last decade and remains at $7.25 per hour. All of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have raised their minimum wage beyond the federal minimum.

“Pennsylvania continues to lag behind other states, including all our neighbors, in ensuring fair wages that keep up with the cost of living,” Governor Wolf said. “This report confirms that too many Pennsylvanians are making poverty wages. We must act to ensure our workers stop falling behind. Our communities can no longer afford to have so many workers struggling just to get by and unable to be active members of local economies. The legislature must raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.”

The annual Minimum Wage Report from the Department of Labor and Industry shows that in 2018, over one million Pennsylvania workers earned above $7.25 per hour up to $12 per hour, and another 631,500 earned up to $15 per hour. Governor Wolf has proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Key findings from the report:

  • Half of workers making near minimum wage (under $12) were employed in full-time positions; and more than half are 25 and older;
  • In 2018, 29 states had higher minimum wage rates than Pennsylvania ranging from $7.50 to $11.50. Since January 1, 2015, all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have minimum wages exceeding Pennsylvania’s rate;
  • Ten states have their minimum wage rates tied to the Consumer Price Index and an additional eight states have approved cost of living adjustments to their minimum wages over the next few years; (Pennsylvania has no such adjustment)
  • Inflation adversely affects the purchasing power of an unchanging minimum wage. Adjusting for projected inflation, the value of the 2018 minimum wage of $7.25 is projected to fall to $7.03 by 2020, as measured in 2018 dollars.
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