STATEMENT: Keystone Research Applauds Gov. Wolf's Minimum Wage Executive Order

Gov.’s Action Spotlights Need for Legislature to Stop Being Tone Deaf and Boost the Overall Minimum Wage
Date of Press Release: 
March 7, 2016

HARRISBURG (March 7, 2016) Mark Price, Labor Economist for the Keystone Research Center, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Wolf’s executive order to raise to $10.15 per hour the minimum wage for state employees and for workers at contractors and subcontractors delivering services to the State:

“The Governor’s Executive Order is an important and positive step that will ensure that state government itself, and contractors delivering services to the state, create more economy-boosting jobs. Critically, the Governor’s order includes an automatic annual adjustment for inflation similar to the ones that increase legislative salaries every year and modeled after adjustments that increase the state minimum wage for all workers in 11 states (including Ohio and New Jersey).

“The Governor’s action puts a spotlight on the fact that for more than two years now the General Assembly has failed to have an up or down vote on the floor of either the House or Senate to raise the minimum wage for all private sector workers in the Commonwealth.  This is despite the fact that a majority of Republicans, as well as Independents and Democrats, support an increase in the minimum wage.

“Keystone Research Center estimates that a minimum wage increase to at least $10.10 for all workers would raise the wages of 1.2 million workers in every part of the commonwealth. A separate estimate by the Independent Fiscal Office also finds that over a million workers would see their wages rise. (For estimates of the workers that would be better able to afford the basics as a result of a minimum wage increase in your local area see http://keystoneresearch.org/countywageboost.) 

“Expanding the ranks of better-paid workers who are able to afford basics would also infuse local economies across Pennsylvania with $1.9 billion in increased purchasing power, creating a modest 6,000 jobs and generating $121 million in new tax revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year. As Pennsylvania is now also a Medicaid expansion state, we further estimate that $104 million in Medicaid payments would be shifted to the Federal Government if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10.

“A statewide minimum wage increase is overwhelmingly supported by Pennsylvania voters and would also pass both chambers if brought up for the vote. The legislative leaders now blocking a vote – and rank-and-file legislators with the power to pressure their leaders for a vote – need to take stock of the widespread populist anger about politicians that claim to care about working families, but take no action to help them. It’s past time for the Pennsylvania legislature to stop being tone deaf to the will of the people and pass an overall Pennsylvania minimum-wage increase.” 

 

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Table 1.

Current and future minimum wage increases in Pennsylvania and neighboring states

State

Current minimum wage

Scheduled future increases

Delaware

$8.25

 

Maryland

$8.25

$10.10 in 2018

New Jersey

$8.38

Annual adjustment for inflation

New York

$9.00

 

Ohio

$8.10

Annual adjustment for inflation

Pennsylvania

$7.25

 

West Virginia

$8.75