Today, advocates once again called for Pennsylvania to raise the minimum wage at yet another rally at the Capitol in Harrisburg. There’s plenty of evidence that it would be good for both the economy and workers—especially female workers—to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is currently $7.25 per hour, the lowest allowed by federal law. The subminimum wage in Pennsylvania, that is, the base pay for tipped workers, is $2.83 per hour.
This week, the Keystone Research Center released a new policy brief underscoring the economic benefit of raising the wage in Pennsylvania. The report’s authors estimate a minimum wage increase will increase state tax revenues by $121.5 million and generate another $104 million in savings in reduced Medicaid spending.
The report also notes that increasing the minimum wage pushes more families from the range in which the state pays nearly half the cost of Medicaid (48% in 2016) into the range in which – under the Medicaid expansion program – the federal government pays most or all of the cost. A minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour would shift an estimated $104 million in Medicaid payments from the state to the federal government.
Pennsylvania would additionally benefit from a $10.10 minimum wage increase because the resulting increase in wages and incomes would generate an estimated $121.5 million more in state income and sales tax revenue.
Here are 5 more reasons to raise the minimum wage:
One: It would help close the significant racial and gender pay gaps: Women make up the majority of the minimum wage workforce. Of that population, women of color are disproportionately represented.
Two: Since minimum wage employees working full-time and year-round in Pennsylvania earn just $14,500 per year, a single parent with two children working full-time still falls $4,000 below the federal poverty line. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost annual full-time earnings by $5,700 to $20,200, enough to pull a family of three out of poverty.
Three: The minimum cash wage for tipped employees in Pennsylvania is $2.83 per hour – just $5,660 a year. Many of these workers are paid less due to wage theft and other illegal practices. In Pennsylvania, women are 80 percent of tipped workers and also 80 percent of restaurant servers, the state’s largest group of tipped workers.
Four: The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that if the minimum wage were gradually increased to $10.10 per hour beginning this year, by 2016, over 1 million Pennsylvania workers would get a raise. Of the total affected workers, about 607,000 (57 percent) are women.
Five: Research shows the subminimum wage is linked to sexual harassment. Women living off tips are roughly twice as likely to experience sexually harassment than women in states that pay the full minimum wage to all workers.
We need to raise the wage to at least $10.10.
Today, advocates called for passage of a state minimum wage increase to help fund the 2016-17 state budget.
Meanwhile, at least nine bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature that would raise the minimum wage.
The PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a growing coalition of more than 50 organizations calling for an end to ideological politics trumping common-sense policy solutions in Pennsylvania, currently advocates for bills that raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and the subminimum wage to 70-75% of that rate.
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The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.