Raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $10.10 per hour could impact more than 11,000 local workers, according to a study by the Keystone Research Center.
Released on Wednesday, the Policy Watch study examined the local impact of a minimum wage increase from the current $7.25 to a proposed $10.10 an hour, which they say would benefit 1.2 million workers statewide, and create 6,000 jobs.
State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Harrisburg, is introducing legislation to raise minimum wage to $9 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2016; and $10.10 an hour one year later.
In introducing the legislation, Kim said, “The real value of the minimum wage has generally declined since 1968, meaning the buying power of minimum wage workers is now less than it was decades ago. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since its high in 1968, it would now be above $10.00 an hour. Therefore, a reasonable increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lift thousands of families out of poverty and off the welfare rolls.”
State Rep. Marty Causer, R-Turtlepoint, acknowledged there are proposals in the Legislature regarding minimum wage, but added, “there hasn’t been much discussion about that.”
“I’ve rather see the federal government address it” for the entire nation, Causer said, but added he certainly would be willing to consider it at the state level.
“I think it would be better to focus on bettering education opportunities for people,” he said. “That’s why we’re working so hard on the rural community college. We need to improve educational opportunities” for people in rural areas to help them get better paying jobs.
Causer said an important issue to consider with an increase in the minimum wage is the impact it would have on small businesses.
“Small businesses might have to lay people off,” Causer said, “or it might create a situation where they hire less people.
“We need to look at the bigger picture,” he said, but added, “I’m not ruling it out.”
The Keystone Research Center indicated proposals are circulating in the General Assembly to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, or alternatively, to $8.75 an hour.
“When a significant number of jobs in Pennsylvania don’t pay enough for our neighbors to afford the basics — things like food, car repairs and eyeglasses — the local economy slows down,” reads a press release from the center. “For many in our communities wages are so low that they are forced, even while working, to rely on the local food bank to help make ends meet. Policies to raise the wage and benefits floor can help restore spending on the basics and, in the process, boost the local economy.”
According to the study, in McKean County, 5,028 workers would get a raise with an increased minimum wage of $10.10 an hour for an increase in total wages of $7.9 million.
In Elk County, that number would be 4,174 workers for an increase of $6.1 million; in Potter, 1,848 workers for a wage increase of $3.1 million; and in Cameron, 518 workers for an increase of $900,000.
With an increase to $8.75, the study indicated, 1,764 workers in McKean County would be impacted; 1,464 in Elk County; 648 in Potter County; and 182 in Cameron County.