NASW-PA Statement on Min Wage Increase
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Posted by: Tyler Woodcook
Support for Increasing the Minimum Wage
Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order increasing
the minimum wage of all employees under his jurisdiction and of Pennsylvania
state government contractors from $7.25 to $10.15 per hour. The National
Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter (NASW-PA) commends Governor
Wolf for his leadership and commitment to a living salary for state employees.
With this encouraging news from Governor Wolf’s office also
comes the question, "What about the rest of Pennsylvania’s workers still
earning $7.25 per hour?” The mother earning $7.25 per hour working 40 hours per
week for 50 weeks each year only receives $14,500 annually—below the poverty
level. This mother has no choice but to seek public assistance to help her feed
her two children, turn the heat on in the middle of January and visit the
dentist once each year.
With 29 other states having raised their minimum wage above
the $7.25 federal level, Pennsylvania’s economy is being left behind. Raising
the minimum wage for all Pennsylvania workers from $7.25 to $10.15 per hour,
consistent with the raise for state workers, would be giving a raise to more
than one million Pennsylvanians. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy
by increasing consumer spending, without adding to state budget deficits.
Despite fears about the adverse effect of a minimum wage increase on
businesses, the Center for Economic and Policy Research cites studies which
demonstrate that when the minimum wage has been increased, there has been no
significant reduction in employment or slowing of job growth, even when the
economy was struggling. Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a
sustainable economic recovery without increasing costs for taxpayers.
With a minimum wage increase to $10.15, the mother working
full-time receiving minimum wage would earn $20,300 annually rather than
$14,500; a very modest salary for a family of three, but a salary which may be
the difference between having to choose to pay the electric bill or the water
bill because there is not enough money for both, and paying all monthly bills
while setting aside an additional $15 for the end of the month when the family
is low on diapers.
NASW-PA strongly encourages the legislature to consider the
many benefits of an increased minimum wage for all Pennsylvanians. As
professional social workers, we believe that full-time, full-year workers
earning the minimum wage should not be forced to raise their families in
poverty. We ask the General Assembly to increase the minimum wage for all
Pennsylvania workers, taking a small step in ensuring the economic justice for
all Pennsylvania’s men, women and families.