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Labor Report

Minimum Wage Discharge

Capitol The odor coming from the belly of the state Capitol is representative of the dank smell inaction. In another word: stagnation.

There’s been too little movement in Harrisburg on any proposal to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, not just my Senate Bill 195.

But SB 195 is what I can control now, and it’s why I took the step last week to introduce a discharge petition to get the bill before the full Senate and out of the Labor & Industry Committee. It’s listed on Monday’s calendar as D.R. 1.

As I said in my remarks: “We must, as a body, act on this proposal now. We must, for the wellbeing of Pennsylvania businesses and workers and taxpayers, act on this proposal now. We’ve waited too long,” Tartaglione said. “Pennsylvania is becoming third world while our neighbors and many other states move to raise hourly compensation to more appropriate levels.”

There’s growing support for a higher minimum wage, even as legislative Republicans continue to say otherwise.

Former Wolf AND Rendell administration executive Katie McGinty said today in Pittsburgh said she supports a $15 minimum wage for Pennsylvania workers.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich also continues to make an excellent case for a higher minimum wage.

“There’s ample evidence that you can raise the minimum wage and not cause job losses,” he told Yahoo Finance. “You put more money in more people’s pockets and they turn around, most of them, and they spend it – middle class, lower middle class and the working class – they spend the extra money they get and it creates more jobs.”

What Reich is saying is what I’ve been saying for years – not just this year.

PA Unemployment Analysis

Job searchI’ve been a little cautious about the dip in Pennsylvania unemployment because it doesn’t really feel like the jobs picture has improved, even though Gov. Wolf is working hard to make it feel that way.

Even though the jobless rolls dropped by more than 5,300, some analysts in Harrisburg said the drop should be attributed, somewhat, to a decline in the state’s labor force. But comparing the present to the bad Corbett years shows a better comparison.

Ranks of Pennsylvanians looking for work melted by more than 25,800 individuals between January 2011 and December 2014.

PA’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate puts it in the bottom half of states’ jobless percentages – in 32nd place. Ohio, Delaware, Maryland and New York are performing better in this category.

I’m not the only one to feel the push-pull of the labor market. Today in the Business & Finance section of Project Syndicate, the director of the Wharton School’s Lauder Institute, Martin Guillen, asked, “What’s Wrong With Labor Markets?

“Unemployment is high in many countries, especially among the young. At the same time, many companies report having trouble finding qualified workers. Record numbers of people are going into retirement, but many would prefer to work, at least part-time. Information technology has displaced workers even as it has created new jobs,” Guillen asked in his lede paragraph.

The bottom line, he posited, is that we should expect a not-so-good feeling for some time.

Celebrating John Mitchell

John MitchellPeople from all over the U.S. visited Scranton this weekend to celebrate the life and labor accomplishments of John Mitchell.

“The group met in Scranton on Sunday for Remember Johnny Mitchell Day presented by the Anthracite Heritage Museum in honor of the United Mine Workers of America president credited with empowering miners amid the great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902,” The Scranton Times-Tribune reported today.

Mitchell was born in 1870, and his admirers say he was the reason mine workers were able to finally come together and fight for better wages and working conditions.