ACADEMIC SIGN-ON LETTER: It's Time To Raise The Minimum Wage in Pennsylvania

Today, workers who earn the Pennsylvania minimum wage make $7.25 per hour—about 29 percent less per hour than their counterparts made 50 years ago (after adjusting for inflation). We can afford to pay the lowest-paid workers in Pennsylvania substantially more than what their counterparts were paid a half century ago. Workers produce more today from each hour of work, with Pennsylvania productivity doubling since the late 1960s.

We, the undersigned, support increasing the Pennsylvania minimum wage to $15 by 2025, and then indexing it to median wages to protect against future erosion. We also support gradually phasing out the outdated sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, which is $2.83 per hour in Pennsylvania.

This policy would directly lift the wages of nearly 1.5 million workers when fully implemented. Another about 500,000 workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through “spillover” effects, as employers adjust their internal wage scales. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults—disproportionately women—in working families, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on their earnings to make ends meet.

The last decade has seen a wealth of rigorous academic research on the effect of minimum wage increases on employment with the weight of the evidence showing that previous, modest increases in the minimum wage had little or no negative effects on the employment of low-wage workers.

A $15 minimum wage by 2025 would result in about $6.5 billion in higher wages for 2 million low-wage Pennsylvania workers, which would also benefit their families and their communities. Since lower-paid workers spend a large share of their additional earnings, this injection of wages would modestly stimulate consumer demand, business activity, and job growth. Further, infrequent and inadequate minimum wage increases are directly responsible for growing inequality between the bottom and the middle class; this minimum wage increase would provide a significant and much needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers. Indexing the minimum wage to growth in the median wage would also ensure that the wage floor keeps up with growth of middle-wage workers’ earnings going forward.

It is time to support a bold increase in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to address the fact that our wages for workers at the low end of the labor market have continued to stagnate and to help reverse decades of growing pay inequality.

Signed,

Geoffrey Schneider, Bucknell University

Robert J Shapiro, Georgetown University McDonough School of Businesss

John Schmitt*, Economic Policy Institute

Nina Banks, Bucknell University

Susan Rose, Dickinson College

Lonnie Golden, Penn State University

Ebru Kongar, Dickinson College

Anthony Underwood, Dickinson College

Lawrence Mishel*, Economic Policy Institute

Chuck Barone, Dickinson College

Sean Flaherty, Franklin and Marshall College

Dennis Deslippe, Franklin & Marshall College

Sylvia A. Allegretto*, University of California, Berkeley

Mark Silverman, Franklin and Marshall College

Antonio Callari, Franklin and Marshall College

Erdogan Bakir, Bucknell University

Erik Love, Dickinson College

Shahram Azhar, Bucknell University

David Brennan, Franklin and Marshall College

Leanne Roncolato, Franklin and Marshall College

Matias Vernengo, Bucknell University

Eiman Zein-Elabdin, Franklin and Marshall College

David Kristjanson-Gural, Bucknell University

Barbara Denison, Shippensburg University

Stephen A. Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center

Mark Price, Keystone Research Center

Jeffrey Shook, University of Pittsburgh

Todd Wolfson**, Rutgers University

Diana Polson, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

Joan Maya Mazelis**, Rutgers University

Esra Kodr, Bucknell University

Donna Ashcraft, Clarion University

Jamie Martin, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Sebastián G. Guzmán, West Chester University

Michael Malcolm, West Chester University

Sabina Deitrick, University of Pittsburgh

Tom Tolin, West Chester University

Paul R. Woodburne, Clarion University


* These signers are from Pennsylvania

** These signers live in Pennsylvania