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Labor Report

Tartaglione, Haywood Bills Would Raise Wages, Support Economy

Senator TartaglioneSenator Tartaglione’s fight to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to a fair, family-sustaining gained new momentum as the senator, several of her legislative colleagues and fair-wage advocates from the labor and business communities united at the Capitol on Feb. 5 to announce new legislation.

Tartaglione’s Senate Bill 1044 proposes to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2024, including an immediate increase to $12 an hour followed by annual boosts of 50 cents per hour. The bill further proposes to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.83 to $12 an hour by 2024. And starting in 2025, minimum wage would be tied to annual cost of living adjustments.

Senate Bill 1044 is similar to a PA House bill sponsored by Rep. Patty Kim, who attended Tartaglione’s Capitol news conference along with Sen. Art Haywood, Sen. Jay Costa, John Meyerson of Raise the Wage PA, Rev. Sandra L. Strauss of Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Mark Price of Keystone Research Center, John Traynor of Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage and Rev. Gregory Holston of POWER.

Watch Video

Tartaglione noted that she led efforts to negotiate Pennsylvania’s last minimum wage increase in 2006. Since then, all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states and 28 states across the country have raised their minimum wage above the federal minimum. Pennsylvania has not.

Haywood, who co-sponsored SB 1044, announced a companion bill, SB 1045, that proposes to further raise the minimum wage for tipped employees from $12 to $15 over three years starting in 2025. Haywood’s bill also would rescind a state law that prevents municipalities from raising their local minimum wages above the state minimum.

Click here to view video of the announcement.

PA Supreme Court Redistricting Order Stands

Pennsylvania’s Congressional map could look a lot different by the time voters head to the polls for the May 15 primary election because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Feb. 5. The court rejected a bid by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to suspend an earlier order by the state’s Supreme Court that directed the legislature to re-draw PA’s 18 Congressional districts.

Congressional DistrictsIn January, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of voters who argued that Republican legislators violated the Pennsylvania constitution in 2011 when they created a Congressional map that favored their own party. The resulting map included numerous oddly shaped districts that divided counties and municipalities.

The state Supreme Court has given the legislature and governor until Feb. 15 to draw and enact a new map. Otherwise, the court has said, it will create a new map in advance of a March 13 special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional district.

January 2018 National Jobs Update

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged in January 2018 at 4.1 percent, the same as it was for the previous three months. Over the previous month, unemployment rolls increased by 108,000 individuals, with total unemployment rolls rising to 6,684,000. National unemployment statistics for the month were:

  • Total Unemployment – 6,684,000
  • Change Over Month – up 108,000
  • Change Over Year – up 958,000
  • Rate Change Over Year – down 0.7 percent
  • Rate Change Over Obama’s 2nd Term – down 3.2 percent

Although unemployment rolls rose by over 100,000 in January 2018, the national labor force increased significantly, negating an increase in the overall unemployment rate (rate = unemployment as % of labor force). The labor force is the total number of employed individuals combined with the total number of unemployed individuals actively searching for work. Growth in the labor force is a sign of a strengthening economy from more people working and/or more individuals searching for jobs (ideally both occur). In January 2018, the national labor force was up by 518,000 individuals, a combination of total employment* rising by 410,000 individuals (as opposed to “non-farm” employment growth referenced below) and total unemployment up by 108,000 individuals as noted above. The significant increase in the labor force in January 2018 makes up for slowed growth over the course of 2017, with year-over-year growth now on par with increases seen in January 2016 and 2017. However, labor force growth under President Trump still has a way to go to match the level seen under President Obama’s second term.

  • Total Labor Force – 161,115,000
  • Change Over Month – up 518,000
  • Change Over Year – up 1,397,000
  • Change Over Obama’s 2nd Term – up 3,955,000

Non-farm* job rolls were also up in January 2018, rising by 200,000, above economist projections of 180,000 and the revised level of 160,000 in December 2017. However, overall growth thus far under President Trump remains a disappointment in comparison to prior years. Thus far, average monthly growth under President Trump stands at only 176,000, below average monthly growth of 217,000 seen over President Obama’s second term. Year-over-year, the national economy has added 2.114 million new non-farm jobs, its lowest level in the last five years (for the month of January) and 386,000 less than the 2.500 million jobs that were added year-over-year in January 2017. Employment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Employment – 147,810,000
  • Change Over Month – up 200,000
  • Change Over Year – up 2,114,000
  • Change over Obama’s 2nd Term – 10,414,000

(* Total employment for labor force provided by U.S. Census Household survey. The separate BLS Establishment survey measures non-farm jobs only.)

Click here for the BLS January 2018 Current Employment Statistics Highlights report.