Monday, May 12, 2014

More Than a Million Reasons For PA Minimum-Wage Hike

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The impact of a minimum-wage hike in Pennsylvania would benefit more than 1 million workers from all areas of the state, according to a new report from the Keystone Research Center. KRC Labor Economist Mark Price co-authored the study. He says boosting the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would have a major ripple effect from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.

"Of that million, roughly 340,000 of the people who would benefit from this minimum-wage increase live in the state's rural areas," Price says. "Those folks represent about 23 percent of the rural workforce, and that's a greater share than you would find in the state's urban areas."

Price says the prospects of a boost in Pennsylvania's minimum wage are well received because the idea makes good business sense.

"You're growing people's earnings from work, and they're going to take that extra money and they're going to pay a bill they've been putting off, get their car repaired, maybe just take their family out for a nice meal. That spending then filters out to the local economy," he explains.

Price adds that the reality of people struggling financially is one many people can relate to.

"We're talking about your neighbors, people in your family, so this is a common experience. That's why when debates about the minimum wage come up, these policies to raise the minimum wage are broadly popular," he points out, "popular among Democrats and Republicans."

In terms of value, Price says, today's minimum wage is 23 percent lower than it was in 1968, when adjusted for inflation. The result of a minimum-wage hike, the report shows, is that about 50,000 workers would be financially better off in each of Bucks and Lancaster counties and the Harrisburg and Scranton metros. More than 113,000 would benefit in Philadelphia, and in excess of 200,000 would be helped in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas.

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