Testimony of Mark Price: Senate Labor and Industry Committee: Increasing the Minimum Wage Hearing

Publication Date: 
May 5, 2015

My name is Mark Price and I hold a Ph. D. in economics from the University of Utah.  I am a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center (KRC), a non-partisan economic think tank based in Harrisburg.  I want to thank Chairwoman Baker and Chairwoman Tartaglione for the opportunity to testify before this committee on the benefits of a minimum wage increase for Pennsylvania workers. 

When a significant number of jobs in Pennsylvania don't pay enough for our neighbors to afford the basics – things like food, car repairs and eyeglasses – the local economy slows down. For many in our communities wages are so low that they are forced, even while working, to rely on the local food bank to help make ends meet. Policies to raise the wage and benefits floor can help restore spending on the basics and, in the process, boost local economies throughout the commonwealth.

There are several proposals to raise the minimum wage currently circulating in the General Assembly.  One of those proposals, an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, would boost the wages of 1.2 million workers, or 23%, of the state’s resident workforce. In total, wages in Pennsylvania would increase by $1.8 billion if the minimum wage were raised to $10.10 per hour.  The higher spending that would result from these wage increases would generate 6,000 jobs.

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would benefit 2.9 times as many workers and boost total wages more than five times as much as an alternative proposal to increase the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour. See Table 1 on page 2 and 3 for a county by county break down of the number of workers impacted under both proposals.[1]  Table 1 also includes estimates on the number of workers impacted by an increase in the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 as well as the total number of workers impacted by a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour immediately.

The majority of workers in Pennsylvania that would get a raise from a minimum wage increase are adults (94% under $8.75 and 87% at $10.10). On average the Pennsylvania workers that would benefit from a minimum wage increase earn a significant share of their family’s income (34% for an increase to $8.75 and 41% for an increase to $10.10).[2] See Table 2 on page 4 for a complete demographic breakdown of the workers impacted under all four scenarios discussed above.

It is our view that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would result in a meaningful boost to family incomes in Pennsylvania and help grow the state’s economy.

Read the full testimony


[1] County specific demographic data on the workers impacted by a minimum wage increase to $10.10 can be found at http://keystoneresearch.org/countywageboost

[2] On average the workers impacted by a minimum wage increase to $12 and $15 per hour earn just under half of their family’s total income.