HARRISBURG, Pa. — After advocating for several years to increase Pennsylvania's "embarrassingly low" minimum wage, Governor Tom Wolf finally got his wish, partially, at least.
In a press release sent on Jan. 25, the governor's office announced Pennsylvania will increase its minimum wage for Commonwealth employees to $15 per hour by Jan. 31.
The announcement comes long after Wolf signed his first executive order requiring a minimum wage increase for government employees back in 2016. In 2018, he amended that order, raising the wage to $12 an hour with a plan to increase it by 50 cents per year until it reached at least $15 an hour in 2024.
Wolf's announcement today accelerates that timeline, mandating the $15 mark go into effect by this upcoming Monday.
“I am committed to supporting workers, creating family-sustaining jobs and ensuring that, in Pennsylvania, hard work is rewarded fairly,” Wolf said. “In 2018, I made a promise to our state workers, to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their service to our commonwealth."
This order does not apply to all employees in Pennsylvania, but the Wolf administration says raising the wage for state employees will affect 1.5 million, or 25%., of Pennsylvania workers.
Although he celebrates the win for Commonwealth workers today, Gov. Wolf still has his sights set on upping the minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour.
He renewed his call today for the General Assembly to pass S.B. 12, which would raise the minimum wage for all workers to $12 an hour, with a path to $15 an hour.
The release sent out by Wolf's office today noted all of Pennsylvania's neighboring states have a higher minimum wage, along with 30 other states in the country. The governor said "a lack of action by the General Assembly" put the Commonwealth in this position.
“Pennsylvanians are getting left behind the rest of the nation because of our low minimum wage, and it’s just not right," Wolf said. "I call on the Republican leaders in the General Assembly to pass legislation to raise the wage for Pennsylvanians and give our workers the boost they need and deserve.”
The governor continued, arguing a minimum wage increase is especially important now, considering the costs of basic necessities like food and gas have all increased over the past few years. According to his media release, "the purchasing power of our minimum wage has dropped by nearly 17%."
“Increases in the minimum wage raise employee morale, productivity, and work quality, while lowering turnover and training costs," Wolf said. "Accelerating the increase to $15 will better align worker salaries with the current cost of living, while providing even greater cost and efficiency savings for state government.”