RELEASE: Data Suggest Pennsylvanians Living Near State Border Commute to Higher Wage Jobs in Surrounding States


HARRISBURG – The Keystone Research Center today released an updated analysis of economic activity near the New York/Pennsylvania border and the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border to determine how vast differences in the minimum wage between the states would affect employment and wages in two low-wage sectors, along with leisure and hospitality, and retail.

The analysis finds that wages increased more in New York and New Jersey, dramatically so in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Employment trends differed little from state to state with one exception—leisure and hospitality employment grew significantly more in New York.

“At the New York/Pennsylvania border, for example, it appears that Pennsylvania and New York workers along our northern border are behaving quite sensibly,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center and co-author of the report. “Pennsylvania workers are crossing the border to get a living-wage job; meanwhile, fewer New York workers are likely coming to Pennsylvania to take a poverty-wage job. Pennsylvania low-wage employers, meanwhile, can’t find workers or fill vacancies because workers are crossing the border or staying home. Border area Pennsylvania employers desperately need a substantial Pennsylvania minimum wage increase so that they can attract more workers and create additional jobs.”

The New Jersey and Pennsylvania border county matchup shows similar trends in the leisure and hospitality industry.

While Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has remained at the federal minimum of $7.25/hr since 2009, New York’s minimum wage now sits at $14.20, while New Jersey’s is $14.13. Both New York and New Jersey are currently scheduled to move to $15/hr with an index to inflation.

“So that Pennsylvania workers can support their families and sustain local businesses through increased consumer buying power, and so that Pennsylvania low-wage employers can attract and retain more workers and compete for employees with neighboring states, Pennsylvania needs to substantially raise its minimum wage now,” said Keystone Research Center Senior Research Analyst and co-author Claire Kovach.

You can read the full analysis here.