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L&I Acting Secretary Urges $12 Minimum Wage Increase with a Path to $15 to Benefit Pandemic Frontline Workers in Pennsylvania

04/20/2021

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier was joined by Rep. Kyle Mullins, Rep. Marty Flynn and Scranton homecare worker Dominick Cutro today to call for an increase to Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 per hour with a path to $15 by 2027 to provide a livable wage to frontline workers, working families and local economies.

"It's time to ensure that the hardworking frontline workers that care for our loved ones, look after our young children, and stock our grocery store shelves earn a living wage," said Acting Secretary Berrier. "It's unconscionable that the workers we've all relied on during this pandemic, people who have put their health at risk to provide vital services, often struggle to afford basic necessities themselves. Too many of these workers make less than $15 an hour, and it's beyond time that all Pennsylvanians earn a fair, livable wage."

Governor Tom Wolf is proposing to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour with a pathway to $15 by 2027, boosting incomes for nearly 1.1 million workers and putting $4.4 billion into the pockets of Pennsylvania workers in the first year. Raising the wage to $12 an hour will inject an additional $116 million into Pennsylvania's economy; an increase to $15 will bolster Pennsylvania's economy by $321 million in 2027.

"Pennsylvanians earning minimum wage make just $290 per week. And that's before taxes, health care and other deductions are taken out of their checks," said Representative Marty Flynn. "Increasing the minimum wage to $12 immediately, with a clear pathway to $15 per hour over an extended period of time, will move our children, friends, and neighbors to a more livable minimum wage. It will also help reduce the number of low-income families that rely on government aid. A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute found that increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminating tipped minimum wage by 2025 would free up $13 billion to $30 billion in taxpayer revenue annually."

"As caregivers, we've dedicated our lives to taking care of others, but often, we can't even take care of ourselves," said Dominick Cutro, a caregiver and member of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania. "For too long, home care workers have been paid pennies for our work, forced to make impossible decisions like whether we'll pay a bill or put food on the table for our families. It's past time to raise the wage to $15 so that caregivers can live with the same dignity and respect that we work so hard to give to others." 

The commonwealth's outdated minimum wage is $7.25, the lowest allowed by federal law. Every neighboring state of Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage. There are eight states on a path to $15, including Florida, a red state. Despite doing the same job, Pennsylvanians are now earning less than half of the workers in these states.

Findings from the Keystone Research Center show those who would benefit from a $15 minimum wage include:

  • 64 percent of restaurant workers;
  • 38 percent of retail workers;
  • 26 percent of agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining workers; and
  • 18 percent of health care and social assistance workers. 

Since the last time the minimum wage was increased, its purchasing power has dropped by nearly 17 percent.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Sarah DeSantis, dlipress@pa.gov

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