Jan 12, 2022 - News

Minimum wage stalls in Pennsylvania as nearby states see increases

States raising minimum wage in 2022
Data: NELR/Axios research; Map: Will Chase/Axios

The minimum wage is increasing in a record number of U.S. states in 2022 — but not in Pennsylvania.

  • The state's minimum wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009, when it was raised to meet the federal rate.

The big picture: A total of 25 states and 56 cities will raise their minimum wages by the end of 2022, according to the National Employment Law Project. In many areas, the floor will meet or exceed $15 per hour.

  • Minimum wages are increasing in every state surrounding Pennsylvania, except West Virginia.
  • Pennsylvania is one of 20 states not to raise its minimum wage above the federal rate.

Zoom in: The state-mandated floor of $7.25 doesn't govern minimums set by companies or Philadelphia.

  • City employees, contractors and subcontractors are on track to earn $15 an hour starting July 1.
  • The minimum wage for state workers and contractors also rises this year by 50 cents, on its way to $15 an hour in 2024.

By the numbers: Workers in the Philadelphia region had a mean hourly wage of $29.04 in May 2020, about 7% above the nationwide average of $27.07, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • For lower-wage jobs like food prep, repair work or building cleaning, the Philadelphia region also has higher wages than the national average.

Between the lines: A family of two adults and two children must have an annual income of at least $74,888 to survive in Philadelphia without assistance, according to the University of Washington's Center for Women's Welfare.

  • Philadelphia residents earning the minimum wage or less are disproportionately Black and women, and more likely to be concentrated in households with low incomes, a Pew Charitable Trusts study found.

What they're saying: Business groups against raising the minimum wage have more power over the state's Republican-led legislature than workers, said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the nonpartisan policy research group Keystone Research Center.

  • "Lawmakers … care more about what they hear from those business interests than they care about their constituents making something closer to a living wage," he said.

Zoom out: Herzenberg said raising the minimum wage can boost pay for workers higher on the income ladder and, in some instances, create more jobs.

  • He warned that the state's low-wage workers could flee to surrounding states with higher wages at a time when Pennsylvania employers are struggling to find employees.

The other side: Republicans in the state House believe market conditions should drive increases in the minimum wage, said Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff.

  • "Pennsylvanians looking for work today have increased bargaining power and higher wages, showing now is not the time for more government interference and additional government burdens on Pennsylvania's small business job creators," he said.

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