Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., introduced legislation today to increase the state minimum wage.
“The minimum wage was implemented to ensure a living wage for working families and individuals. However, many of these families who depend on full-time minimum wage incomes are still living below the poverty line,” Neilson said. “One of my legislative goals has always been to have a minimum wage that enables workers to keep their family out of poverty and provide the most basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter.”
House Bill 1186 would amend the Minimum Wage Act of 1968 to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $7.35 per hour, an amount 10 cents more than the federally established rate. The legislation would also automatically increase the state minimum wage in the future whenever the federal minimum wage is increased. The automatic increase would keep the state’s minimum wage 10 cents higher than the federal rate.
Neilson’s bill would increase the state’s minimum wage to a rate higher than the federal rate for the first time since 2009.
“As an elected official, it is my job to make policy decisions the will improve the lives of the hardworking citizens of Pennsylvania. One way to achieve this is by setting compensation standards above the federally established minimums,” Neilson said. “Initially, my legislation only provides for a modest increase in the minimum wage, but it also includes a mechanism for future increases so Pennsylvania’s minimum wage would automatically increase to an amount of 10 cents more than what is set by federal law.”
Neilson explained that this mechanism is needed to ensure that the minimum wage keeps up with the rate of inflation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the last increase in 2009, workers paid the minimum wage have lost purchasing power of 53 cents per hour, which is equivalent to a $520 reduction in pay, annually, compared to the value of minimum wage four years ago.
“By assuring employees are paid fair wages, we can help restore their purchasing power, and in effect, help working families to better provide for their loved ones,” Neilson said.