MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is the lowest in the region. Advocates tell lawmakers an increase is overdue.

Posted by M. C. on January 22, 2021

‘Many of Pennsylvania’s most essential workers do not make enough to pay their basic living expenses, including people who care for our young children and elderly parents, those who keep our hospitals and stores clean, and so many more,’ Collett said.

Raising the expense to hire workers or just stay in business when at the same time the government is locking down people and hobbling or destroying existing businesses (except of the course the business of government).

This makes sense to government people.

Your favorite local small business guy will suffer the most. How many customers will pay a decent tip to someone making $15/hr at a business that just had to raise prices and decrease service?

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=04811986b

Chris Ullery Bucks County Courier Times | USA TODAY NETWORK

Democratic lawmakers heard from advocates, academics and business groups Monday on a renewed push to give minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania a raise to $15 an hour.

Over 100 people attended the Zoom hearing on minimum wage hosted by the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, covering a broad range of topics over three hours.

The state has used the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage since 2009, a wage that many lawmakers and advocates say is unlivable and perpetuates poverty.

‘It is unacceptable that Pennsylvania continues to allow its minimum wage to be the poverty wage of $7.25 an hour,’ Sen. Art Haywood, D-4, representing parts of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

‘We hold this hearing today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service to continue the work that Dr. King started demanding dignity and respect for all workers, and that starts by paying workers a living wage,’ Haywood added.

Testimony from members of groups like the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage and Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition said a raise for low-income earners is needed now more than ever.

‘These wages have not changed for over 13 years, keeping thousands of workers living below the poverty level,’ said Jacqui Rogers, a living wage tracker and partner with the Bucks County coalition.

‘Over 60% of minimum wage workers are women, many of whom are primary wage earners in the household — they are not teenagers,’ Rogers added.

Democratic lawmakers have long supported increases to the minimum wage, the most recent push in the form of a renewed Senate Bill 12 introduced last year.

Originally introduced by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-2, of Philadelphia, the bill would immediately raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour for all workers.

The bill would also increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027, and eliminate the $2.85 hourly tipped minimum wage for jobs like food servers in the commonwealth.

‘It’s time we break the cycle of poverty in Pennsylvania and make an investment in our economic future,’ Tartaglione said Monday.

Tartaglione was a primary sponsor of a 2006 bill that increased the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour.

The increase appears to be the first time Pennsylvania had a minimum wage higher than the federal rate since 1968, data from the U.S. Department of Labor show.

That rate was short lived, however, as the federal wage began increasing annually the following year to transition into the current hourly wage.

At least 29 states in 2020 had a minimum wage rate higher than $7.25 an hour, including New Jersey, $11; Delaware, $9.25; Ohio, $8.70; Maryland, $11; and New York, $11.80.

Sen. Maria Collett, D-12, of Lower Gwynedd, joined others Monday saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown minimum wage workers are a vital part of society and should be paid accordingly.

‘Many of Pennsylvania’s most essential workers do not make enough to pay their basic living expenses, including people who care for our young children and elderly parents, those who keep our hospitals and stores clean, and so many more,’ Collett said.

While most were in favor of a wage increase, Gene Barr, president and CEO of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, said the minimum wage increase is a ‘blunt instrument’ to solve a complex problem.

Small businesses and workers ‘with more limited skill sets’ would ultimately see staff reductions and fewer job opportunities in Pennsylvania with a $15 minimum wage.

‘We don’t believe it’s the most effective way of driving assistance to those who truly need it,’ Barr said.

Barr’s testimony saw pushback from both sides of the committee dais throughout the hearing.

Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield, said he believed many minimum wage workers had multiple jobs, skewing claims of overall job loss.

Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, supported that claim, saying job loss from wage increases was more akin to a ‘consolidation’ to a single job.

One of the earliest versions of the country’s minimum wage laws came out of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression.

Roosevelt had

described provisions of that act for salary standards as a ‘living wage’ as part of a goal that ‘nobody starve in this country.’

Across the region At least 29 states in 2020 had a minimum wage rate higher than $7.25 an hour.

New York

$11.80

New Jersey

11

Maryland

11

Delaware

9.25

Ohio

Be seeing you

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