Wolf Administration, Pa. Democrats renew call for raising the minimum wage

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Wolf Administration and Democrats in the legislature are continuing the push to raise the minimum wage. Business leaders say now isn’t the time.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, set in 2009. Governor Wolf’s proposal would have a jump to $12 starting July 1 and slowly increase to $15 an hour by 2027.

At Elementary Coffee Company in Harrisburg, no employee makes under $15 an hour.

“We are really just trying to direct the company, as there’s cash flow, back to the employees themselves and back to the people who actually make the company what it is,” said owner Andrea Grove.

That’s the way Grove started her business and something Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier says others should follow.

“Our substandard minimum wage is one of the many reasons so many Pennsylvanians are stuck in a cycle of poverty,” Berrier said.

Governor Wolf’s proposal would boost wages for 1.1 million Pennsylvanians but Gene Barr, president and CEO of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry has major reservations.

“What the congressional budget office has said, which is the raise to 15, at the national level, will lead to the loss of 1.4 million jobs,” Barr said.

Barr recalls one conversation with a restaurant chain owner, talking about a raise to just $10 or $11.

“They said this, ‘Right now every one of our servers works eight tables. At this level, every one of our servers works 12 tables and we will lay the other people off,'” Barr said.

The pandemic has hit business owners hard, but also employees who were laid off.

“Many Pennsylvanians are facing job loss and have no savings because they’re working jobs that pay too little to set aside money for emergencies,” Berrier said.

The proposal most likely won’t go anywhere without Republican support but Democratic lawmakers are urging Pennsylvanians to put pressure on them.

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