One-and-a-Half Million Workers Would Benefit from Raising Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage

Claire Kovach |

New Keystone Research brief profiles workers who would benefit

Harrisburg, PA – Yesterday at a press conference with Sen. Art Haywood, the Keystone Research Center (KRC) released a new brief outlining who would benefit from a minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania.

With the governor’s new push to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2028, KRC estimated who exactly would benefit under this proposal. According to Claire Kovach, Senior Research Analyst with KRC, “One-and-a-half million Pennsylvania workers would benefit from a minimum-wage increase, roughly one out of every four workers in the state. Most of those workers—86%—are adults, 20 years or older and that minimum wage increases are well-targeted to families that most need a raise to pay their bills. Even better, we know from experience in New York that these increases won’t lead to job loss. What is the Pennsylvania legislature waiting for?”

Kovach, who is based in State College, added, “I just checked this week, and one of the minimum wage jobs I worked 12 years ago is still advertised at $7.25 per hour today. The minimum wage worker who stands where I stood a dozen years ago is getting paid a wage with 25% less buying power than I was—a pay cut of thousands of dollars. And $7.25 wasn’t a lot back then!”

Here are some other facts on who benefits from a PA minimum wage increase from KRC’s report:

  • Almost a quarter of a million of the workers who benefit are over 55 years old.
  • Over three out of five of these workers are women.
  • One in three have a child under 18 in the household.

Workers who would benefit are also disproportionately “essential” workers who we depended on and continue to ask too much of during this pandemic.

Sen. Haywood pointed out at yesterday’s press conference that New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Ohio & West Virginia all have a higher minimum wage than Pennsylvania. In the first three of those states, the minimum wage is on a path to $15 per hour.

1.46 million workers would benefit from Governor Wolf’s current proposal of raising the wage to $15 by 2028. If enacted, this proposal would spur a reduction in poverty across the state, and a decrease in gender and race pay disparities. A pay increase for low-wage workers would directly inject more money into our state economy, much needed as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Read the full report on who benefits from the minimum wage and how we compare to neighboring states here.

Keystone Research Center: