Apr 5, 2022 - News

Nearly a third of Pennsylvania workers make less than $15 per hour

Reproduced from Oxfam America via U.S. Census; Map: Axios Visuals

As employers raise wages to attract workers during one of the largest labor shortages across the country, nearly a third of Pennsylvanians still make less than $15 per hour, according to an Oxfam America analysis of census data.

Why it matters: Pennsylvania's minimum wage is at the federal minimum of $7.25, but a "living wage" in the state for an adult with no children is estimated to be more than double that.

  • More than 1.9 million workers would benefit from the state increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to Oxfam.

By the numbers: The data shows 31.2% of workers in Pennsylvania earn under $15 an hour. But there are also gender and racial disparities at the state level.

  • Nearly 40% of women workers make less than $15 per hour in Pennsylvania, compared to 23% of men.
  • For people of color, those figures jump to roughly 54% for women and 38% for men.

Zoom in: Philadelphia employees, contractors and subcontractors are on track to earn $15 an hour, starting July 1. And many companies in the city, such as the restaurant group behind HipCityVeg, have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour.

What they're saying: Mike Shields, a research director at the Economic League of Greater Philadelphia, tells Axios that the pandemic, inflation and workers having more options has helped encourage higher wages.

  • "The pandemic showed this system couldn't continue and we've been suffering from wage stagnation for more than a decade," he says.
  • "If you pay based on what the living wage is, you're more competitive in attracting employment and retaining those employees in the long term," he adds.

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