Subscribe to E-Update here.

Voters Choose Higher Minimum Wages

Pennsylvania watched from the sidelines on Election Day as voters in Illinois, South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Alaska said yes to minimum wages higher than our paltry $7.25 an hour.

On Jan. 1, South Dakotans will make $8.50 an hour and receive increases in future years based on inflation. Tipped minimum wage earners will also make half of the regular minimum wage, which will be double the current rate of $2.13. Fifty-five percent of South Dakota voters said yes to “Measure 18.”

In Arkansas, the minimum moves from $6.25 to $7.50 per hour on Jan. 1, to $8 a year later, and to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, after voters, in a landslide (65.9 percent to 34 percent) approved “Issue 5.”

Nebraska will move its minimum wage to $8 this January and follow it with a $1/hour increase when 2016 arrives. “Yes” voters outnumbered “no” voters on “Initiative 425” by nearly 100,000 ballots, 59.2 percent to 40.8 percent.

Ballot Measure 3” in Alaska easily said yes to an $8.75 an hour minimum wage in January when 69 percent of voters approved the proposal. This state’s minimum will move to $9.75 in 2016 and follow inflation every year after that.

WageAnd, in Illinois, nearly 2.2 million people said yes on an advisory measure that would increase the Land of Lincoln’s base hourly rate from its current $8.25 to $10 this January. Only 1.1 million voted no on the idea.

On a smaller scale, but equally important, San Francisco voters said yes to an increase in their city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

I know that Gov.-elect Tom Wolf supports an increase in the minimum wage and I am looking forward to him joining our fight to increase Pennsylvania’s rate. You can bet I will be re-introducing my legislation to increase the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage when we return to Harrisburg in January.

And you might think our path will be easier in the commonwealth now that 30 states will be requiring employers in 2015 to pay minimum wage rates that are higher than ours, or that even half of all millionaires polled in a recent PNC Wealth and Values survey believe minimum wages should be higher than $7.25.

The San Francisco Chronicle seems to think Pennsylvania will up its paltry sum.

I am hoping our path will be easier and the General Assembly adopts higher minimum and tipped-minimum wages in 2015. Remember, the voters said yes to minimum wage increases when they were voting yes to Republican candidates.

Jobs Picture

The country added about 21,000 fewer jobs than predicted in October. Still, the nation’s jobless rate dipped one-tenth of a point to 5.8 percent.

“Economists attributed the dip in the labor market largely to seasonal factors, and they expect hiring to rebound over the next several months,” reporter Alain Sherter wrote for CBS Moneywatch.

PA’s unemployment rate for September is 5.7 percent.

The Center for American Progress issued a “State of the U.S. Labor Market” this week and poked at some of the underlying reasons why the continuing drop in unemployment is not translating to more positive feelings among Americans.

“We have been living with the effects of the Great Recession for nearly six years, and the unemployment rate has never told a story of the labor market as incomplete as it does today,” CAP’s report concluded.

Minimum wage opponents like to argue that more workers will lose jobs if there is an increase in the base hourly rate. I’ve shared mountains of evidence that either contradicts or tempers that claim, and I must continue this drum beat when I come across statistics that SHOULD calm all fears.

The latest great example of the impact of minimum wage increases on employment comes from the Tampa Bay Times.

Basically, reporter Lauren Carroll found that when Congress increases the federal minimum the increases in employment are greater than if there are drops in unemployment. You can decide for yourself by reading her article.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

SustranaIn today’s increasingly aware society, not only are many individuals environmentally, economically and socially conscious, but also they expect the businesses they patron to hold these same values.  One of the commonwealth’s newest innovative companies, Sustrana LLC, is providing the tools and services for businesses to make this happen.  Located in Devon, PA, Sustrana helps interested businesses develop and implement value-driven practices into their programming by using sustainable management methods.

As a company that engages with other businesses to improve their operations (and bottom-line), Sustrana understands and supports the needs of employers, but it also recognizes the importance of employees who serve as the workhorses of every business.  Because of its own commitment to high ethical, environmental and social standards, as well as outstanding performance, transparency and accountability in the workplace, Sustrana has signed a statement pledging its support for a federal minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour, along with future increases tied to inflation. 

Research indicates companies that adopt overall models of sustainability tend to benefit in size, productivity, employee retention and earnings.  From the procurement and disposal of products, to the wellbeing of direct and supply chain employees and the overall leadership and management of a business, sustainable programming encompasses every aspect of a company and is the key to the future of industry.  With the presence of companies, like Sustrana, the future of employers and employees may be a little brighter. 








Sterlingwear Sustrana