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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2013 01:44 PM
From: Representative Patty Kim
To: All House members
Subject: Raising Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage
I intend to introduce legislation to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.

As the stock market reaches new highs and corporations earn record-level profits, millions of working men, women and children are struggling just to scrape by.

Fourteen percent of Pennsylvanians were living in poverty last year. At 7.5 percent, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remains above the national rate. The gap between rich and poor continues to widen, and the middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.

It’s time we start making Pennsylvania’s working families our top priority.

That’s why I will soon be introducing legislation to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage – a top priority for the House Democratic Caucus.

If enacted, my legislation would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage in two steps, from the current level of $7.25 per hour to:

  • $9.00 per hour, beginning 60 days after enactment. Tipped workers would be increased to $4.50.

  • $10.10 per hour, beginning one year and 60 days after enactment. Tipped worker would be increased to $5.05.

The minimum wage for employees whose monthly tips exceed $30 has been stagnant at just $2.13 an hour for the more than 20 years and is not currently tied to the regular minimum wage. My legislation will correct this inequity and ensure that tipped workers will never again see their wages left behind any future state or federal increase in the minimum wage.

Nineteen states, and the District of Columbia, have raised their minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25. Currently, a full-time minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania earns just $15,080 a year – less than the national poverty level for a family of three ($19,530).

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.

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. Contrary to critics’ claims that most minimum-wage workers are students and young people, the facts are that the average age of a minimum wage employee is 35 years old, and 88 percent of minimum wage employees are age 20 or older.

Raising the minimum wage is not just a workers issue; it is a women’s issue. More than 60 percent of Pennsylvania’s minimum wage earners are women, and nearly two-thirds of workers in tipped occupations are women. My bill would help an estimated 855,000 minimum-wage workers in Pennsylvania, including 514,000 women.

Raising the minimum wage is also good for business. As countless economists have reported, raising wages has proven to reduce employee turnover and increase company productivity. When the minimum wage is increased, employers enjoy a level playing field and do not face a competitive disadvantage for providing a living wage.

Contrary to critics’ claims that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs, a 2010 study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics found that minimum wage increases have not resulted in significant job losses. Instead, it could lead to the creation of more jobs, as raising wages increases the amount of money in the hands of consumers and boosts demand for goods and services.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute shows that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would result in nearly $2 billion in total wage increases for workers in Pennsylvania. Raising the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of working families when they need it most, boosting their spending power and the overall economy.

My legislation will help struggling families pay their bills and provide a much-needed boost to our lagging economy. It’s time to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Please join me and the entire House Democratic Leadership Team in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1896