Since 2009, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been $7.25. Two City Council members urge Harrisburg lawmakers to let Philadelphia determine its own minimum wage after failed statewide attempts.
On Thursday, Councilmembers Mike Driscoll and Jim Harrity introduced a resolution urging the General Assembly to allow Philadelphia to set its own minimum wage. The state government would have to change PA State Act 112, which prohibits Philadelphia from setting its own minimum wage.
According to RentCafe, the city’s cost of living is 10% more than the state average. Driscoll and Harrity want the minimum wage to reflect that.
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The Inquirer found that Pennsylvania’s $7.25 minimum wage drops to $6.69 when adjusted for Philadelphia’s cost of living, making it the fourth-lowest in a major U.S. metropolis.
“Philadelphians have higher costs of living than the rest of the Commonwealth, and having the minimum wage established by authorities throughout the state affects working people,” added Driscoll.
“Renters in Philadelphia are facing record back-rent, rising prices, and stagnant wages, causing an economic crisis. In a city with 25% poverty, the current rate is not adequate to maintain a family.”
Pennsylvania’s minimum wage hike has faced obstacles. During his two years as governor, Tom Wolf regularly requested the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, a position he restated just before Christmas Day in 2021.
Gov. Josh Shapiro promises to raise the minimum wage and ensure that individuals “have the skills necessary to do the jobs of today and tomorrow.”
Pennsylvania raised the income threshold for tipped workers statewide in August to preserve wages. Tipping employees across the state must earn at least $135 per month before their hourly pay can be cut from $7.25 to the tipped minimum of $2.53 per hour.
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New Jersey and Delaware have gradually raised their minimum wage to $15 by 2024 and 2025, respectively. Delaware’s minimum wage is $11.75, whereas New Jersey’s is $14.13.
“Minimum wage is more than simply a labour issue—a it’s human right to make a fair livelihood to sustain themselves and their family,” added Harrity.
“For 14 years, our state legislators have failed to adjust that right for cost of living increases. As leaders of the nation’s poorest big metropolis, we must demand higher salaries for Philadelphians.”
In recent years, state legislatures and city councils have fought over the ability to raise the minimum wage, with state lawmakers passing preemption laws to overturn municipal pay increases, NPR said.
Due to party impasse in the state House, both houses are adjourned until at least Feb. 27. Even if City Council approves the resolution, its impact on the state legislature is unknown.
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The Republican-led state Senate has blocked minimum wage increases, but three special House elections on Feb. 7 could change party control. In 2021, the General Assembly blocked eight minimum wage-raising legislation.