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Governor Wolf Raises Minimum Wage for State, Contract Workers

Governor Wolf is calling on lawmakers to raise the minimum wage for all workers. (Governor Tom Wolf/flickr.com)
Governor Wolf is calling on lawmakers to raise the minimum wage for all workers. (Governor Tom Wolf/flickr.com)
March 8, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Minimum-wage state workers and those working for companies with state contracts will be getting a raise. Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order Monday, raising the minimum wage for all workers under his jurisdiction to $10.15 an hour.

Details of the order were not immediately available, but Mark Price, labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, says for some workers it will be a definite improvement.

"It won't represent a large cost burden for the state or, even realistically, a large number of workers will be impacted by this," says Price. "But for those that do see an increase, it's an important and good step forward."

Pennsylvania is one of 21 states that has not increased its minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

According to Price, the General Assembly has had a bill for two years that would boost the minimum for all workers in the state to $10.10 an hour. If passed, it would raise the pay for about 1.2-million workers.

"That would boost their total wages by roughly $1.9 billion," says Price. "And that's certainly a lot of money, and it's a lot of money that gets circulated through the economy as those workers go out and spend that money."

Price believes there is enough support to pass the bill, but he says the leadership hasn't allowed it to come to the floor for a vote.

And he points out that increasing the minimum wage to that level would help reduce the state's budget deficit by about $225 million.

"One-hundred million dollars of that, more or less, is savings to the state taxpayer," says Price. "As workers qualify for the federally-funded portion of Medicaid."

The rest, he says, would come from increased sales and income-tax revenue.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA