2020 opens up with a pay bump for millions of workers across the country as 24 states raise their minimum wage. Yes, nearly half of the states in our union are raising the minimum wage. Is Pennsylvania one of them? No.
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour, which is barely the poverty level for a single-person household. Activists and labor unions across the state have been working to raise wages for these workers, but political division in the state legislature has stymied efforts over the years.
Pennsylvania last raised the minimum wage in —, and at the same time, they instituted a preemption clause that prevents municipalities from raising their own wages in accordance with the cost of living.
Last year, the United Way of Pennsylvania released the ALICE report, Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. The report analyzed financial hardship across the Commonwealth, and calculated survival and stability budgets based on the cost of living in all 67 counties. Statewide, a single adult household would require an hourly wage of 10.38 to cover the cost of living on a survival budget. A single adult with a school-age child would need $14.39 per hour, and a two-person household with two children would need between $23.58 and $29.67 an hour.
What does this mean? Pennsylvanians working full-time making the minimum wage can not cover the cost of living.
No one should be ok with the lowest possible standards for survival. Statewide, a single adult household would require an hourly wage of $17.48 to cover the cost of living on a stability budget. A single adult with a school-age child would need $24.88 per hour, and a two-person household with two children would need between $41.09 and $49.68 an hour.
Considering the reality Pennsylvania families are facing today, $7.25 is not enough. It’s time for a raise.