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Pennsylvania officials make new push to raise minimum wage

Pennsylvania currently uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Wolf administration is once again calling for Pennsylvania to raise its minimum wage.

Jennifer Berrier, the secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry (L&I), spoke at a press conference on May 4 in support of raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour, with a pathway to $15 per hour.

Pennsylvania currently uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

The administration has been touting the plan for some time. Amid high inflation, the proposed wages have lost some purchasing power. Yet, officials said any raise would help workers.

“I just think that how ridiculously low that rate is, it doesn’t matter whether $12 isn’t as much as it was three years ago," Berrier said. "It’s still better than what we have now."

State Republican lawmakers said raising the minimum wage isn’t necessary in order to raise wages, as prevailing wages have already gone up due to a tight labor market.

“That’s what capitalism is based on, is the business community responding to market developments, and they’ve done that by raising the wage themselves,” said House Republican Caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman.

As the GOP-controlled legislature is unlikely to act on this issue in the near future, workers will likely remain to be guaranteed the minimum wage. Many, however, are already earning more.

The owner of Knead Pizza also spoke at the press conference in support of raising wages. She already pays her employees a minimum of $15 an hour. Her employees said being fairly paid motivated workers like them to do better work.

“They just care," said Knead Pizza manager Alicia Benner. "When you’re only getting paid however much, you don’t put yourself into it as much. You’re like, 'Whatever, it’s a job.' But when somebody pays you fairly and you can live your life, you feel a lot more invested in it.”

Arlene Ross, the owner of Harrisburg-based Broad Street Army and Navy Store, said she didn’t even remember the federal minimum wage and was shocked to learn minimum wage workers earn only $290 per full-time week.

Ross said she wouldn’t be able to find anyone willing to work at such a low price for the renovations she needs done: “I could probably get a sledgehammer and do it myself.”

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