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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: September 30, 2013 03:14 PM
From: Representative Mark B. Cohen
To: All House members
Subject: Co-Sponsorship of Legislation to Increase Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage

A full time minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, will earn $58.00 per day, $290.00 per week, and $15,080.00 per year. The national poverty line for a family unit of two is $14,570 per year – for three, it’s $19530 – for four, it’s $23,550.

Earlier this session Rep. Cohen and others introduced a bill raising the minimum wage to $9.00 effective 60 days after passage. The $9.00 figure was backed by President Obama and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had just secured passage of a $9.00 minimum wage in New York State. Recently, however, California Governor Jerry Brown led a successful effort to raise the California minimum wage to $10.00 an hour. The California Act gives new credibility to the $10.10 per hour minimum wage figure backed by many members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, including Pennsylvania Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. In addition to widespread Congressional support, a $10.00 or so minimum wage is backed by governors in Illinois, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as many state and local figures around our country.

Our bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $9.00 an hour 60 days after enactment and $10.10 an hour one year and 60 days after enactment. Thereafter, the amount of the minimum wage would be determined annually by increases in the Consumer Price Index.

The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs, and this legislation will help families and individuals that are struggling in this harsh economy. The $1.60 an hour minimum wage of 1968 would be worth $10.56 an hour today when adjusted for inflation. Today’s low wage workers have to pay the same as you or we do for gas, for heating, for milk and bread, for tuition - if they are lucky enough to be able to send themselves or a child to a community or other college. If it can be a stretch for us to afford the gas, the rent, the tuition - what must it mean for the minimum-wage earner? It often means doing without.

A study by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would pull more than half of the nation's working poor out of poverty. And, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the impact on the GDP from minimum wage increases in just the 10 states (not including California!) where the wage has gone up could total $183 million.

There will always be those who denounce increases in the minimum wage as ‘job-killers,’ but a 2010 study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics analyzed data from more than 500 counties and found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs. Indeed, an increase in the minimum wage would boost consumer spending. This adjustment in the minimum wage will not correct the huge gap between the incomes of the working poor and the obscenely rich – but it will help struggling families to put food on the table, to buy the used car and to pay the rent and the monthly bills.

If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact Kathy Seidl of my office at 787-4117 or kseidl@pahouse.net.

Introduced as HB1740