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So Much for Positive Unemployment News

I am proud of the minimum wage workers across America who have banded together to fight the unlivable wages their employers are paying them.

But one of the things that is reverberating – negatively with me – in the aftermath of the recent protests is the clamor of people who insist on defending minimum wage as something that new employees get to start “but they’re not meant to stay in those jobs forever, so they should just suck it up.”

It used to be true that you got your first job, you earned minimum wage and then you were either promoted or you found a better work opportunity. But those days don’t exist for a variety of good/bad reasons. In Pennsylvania, we have a governor who has not supported education, has cut job training funding and has turned his back on most businesses, except for Marcellus Shale companies.

paycheckPeople are working minimum wage jobs today because there are no other opportunities for them now. And their ability to find something that pays better is stilted because they cannot afford their own training.

I applaud the fast-food workers in Philly, Rockford, Hartford, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, New York, Detroit and Chicago who stood up to fight for better pay and better sense from their employers and the people who continue their Scrooge-like opposition to a more livable wage.

As a percentage of the median wage, American minimum wage earners, according to the U.S. Labor Department, is tied for last with Japan at 0.38 percent.

Korea (0.42 percent), Poland (0.47), Hungary (0.54) and Turkey (0.72) have higher minimum wages, and Turkey leads the way!

The NFL has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons this week. One of those reasons is the league’s inability to pay a minimum wage, at least, to its cheerleaders.

According to Businessweek, NFL cheerleaders earn less than the base hourly rate. Abysmal! It’s becoming painfully clear how the NFL feels about women.

Not only were they not paid minimum wage, but they weren't paid regularly nor did they receive paystubs---all violations of the minimum wage law and wage payment and collection act. My SB 1300 would help to crack down on employers and improve enforcement of this law by the Department of Labor and Industry, in addition to raising the minimum wage.

Also, my SB 1353 would strengthen the Wage Payment and Collection Law using similar measures to those proposed in SB 1300. SB 1353 would impose reporting requirements on the department, improve enforcement efforts and increase fines on employers found to be in violation of the law.

PA’s and America’s dastardly low minimum wage rates are making us look like 3rd world countries. Let’s end this chapter this fall!

Unemployment & The Economy

Positive economic news continued this week – except for those who are hitting the unemployment line for the first time.

First-time UC claims hit a two-month high last week.

According to The Hill, “Many economists have argued that underlying labor market growth remains strong with only temporary blips, like federal holidays, where data is harder to adjust, muddying up the numbers.”

Something to watch even as economists, generally, report that things are getting better.

Also something to consider: the unemployment rate for African-American women is still very bad.

Bottom line: the economy continues to quiver with mixed messages about its upward or downward arrow. The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat had a good story on this on Sunday.