Today marks 10 years since the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted to raise the state minimum wage.
At $7.25 per hour, it is the lowest permitted by federal law.
WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson wrote an editorial about this unhappy anniversary, and explored the negative affect Pennsylvania’s refusal to bring any of the many minimum wage bills to the floor for a vote has on female workers.
From the piece, published in the Centre Daily Times:
In the past decade, the majority of states have taken steps to raise their minimum wage above the federal minimum, including every state touching our borders. In fact, a minimum-wage worker in our neighboring states of New York and New Jersey can now earn more than twice what their counterparts in Pennsylvania can earn performing a similar job, simply because of ZIP code.
Nearly three-quarters of surveyed Pennsylvanians support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour, as does Gov. Tom Wolf. Yet, committee chairs in both houses refuse to allow any of the many proposed minimum wage bills to the floor for a vote. Stalling a vote does not stop the problem that full-time working Pennsylvanians struggling to make ends meet cannot earn enough money to provide food, housing and clothing for their families.
Women in particular are disadvantaged by Pennsylvania’s failure to act. Women are the sole or primary source of income for 40 percent of households with children in Pennsylvania. They make up two-thirds of the total number of $7.25-an-hour minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania. A single parent of two children working full time, year-round in Pennsylvania earns $14,500 per year, which is more than $4,500 below the official U.S. poverty line. To fill the gap between Pennsylvania’s minimum and a living wage, they often need to rely on government assistance for food and medical care.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.