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Labor Report

Daily Papers Publish Tartaglione’s Minimum Wage Column

Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers and their affiliated website,, published Senator Tartaglione’s opinion column on April 9 detailing the overwhelming case for raising Pennsylvania’s subminimum wage for the first time in more than two decades. Restaurant servers, bartenders and other tip-earning workers can make as little as $2.83 an hour in wages under the state’s outdated minimum wage law.

Senator TartaglioneIn February, Senator Tartaglione introduced SB 1044 to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage for all hourly employees, including tip-earners and non-tipped workers. The state last raised its standard minimum wage in 2006. It stands at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, even while all six of Pennsylvania’s neighbor states have higher minimum wages.

Tartaglione’s bill would raise the standard minimum to $12 an hour immediately and $15 by 2024, after which the minimum wage would be tied to annual cost of living adjustments. The tipped minimum wage would grow to $9 immediately and $12 by 2024. A companion bill by Senator Art Haywood would further raise the tipped minimum wage to match the standard minimum.

In authoring her opinion article, Senator Tartaglione refuted the baseless and misleading argument presented by a waiter from Maine in a March 21 op-ed published by the Inquirer, Daily News and The waiter made the unfounded claim that raising the minimum wage would actually result in a pay cut for restaurant servers. Federal and state data contradict this false narrative, as does verifiable academic research.

Senator Tartaglione initially submitted a much longer article to the newspapers, but was forced to edit the piece to meet the newspapers’ space limitations. The full article can be found on the senator’s website here.

Federal Data Show Minimum Wage Raises Lead to More Jobs and Economic Stimulus

Another piece of positive news emerged in the fight to ensure that hourly workers make living wages. The Bangor (Maine) Daily News printed an editorial citing new federal statistics that show employment grew in Maine after the state implemented a minimum wage increase.

Time to Raise the Min WageIn a November 2016 statewide referendum, 55 percent of voters endorsed the minimum wage increase. The old wage was $7.50 an hour. The current wage is $10.
“U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that wages grew across the board for Maine workers in 2017. As expected, the largest gain was among the lowest-paid workers, who saw the largest increase in earnings in the more than 15 years that the department has tracked this state-level data,” the Bangor newspaper reported. “At the same time, overall employment and the average number of hours worked also grew in Maine, dispelling warnings that the minimum wage increase would depress hiring and hours.”

Despite this information and the will of the electorate, lawmakers in Maine continue to seek ways to rollback portions of the law. Last year, the state’s House of Representatives voted 110-37 to overturn the raise for tip-earning workers such as restaurant servers and bartenders. The state Senate is considering reductions in the incremental raises scheduled under the current law.

The Bangor Daily News’ editorial board stated:

“But there is no reason to slow down the scheduled increases in Maine’s minimum wage, which have already helped lift Mainers out of poverty and have put more money into the state’s economy.

“There is long-standing national evidence that increasing the wages of low-wage earners is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy, because these workers spend their money on goods and services. Wealthier individuals tend to invest or save money they receive from raises or tax cuts. Every extra dollar that goes to a low-wage worker creates $1.21 worth of economic activity, according to respected economic models. Every dollar that goes into the pockets of high-earning Americans adds just 39 cents to the national economy.”

Judge Advances Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Google

googleA California state appeals judge last month rejected a request by Google Inc. to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by a group of women employees who accuse the company of gender bias in its employee pay and job promotion practices.

According to published reports, Superior Court Judge Mary E. Wiss granted Google a “demurrer” in December because the plaintiffs had not properly defined the class of potential victims in the case. But the judge allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended case that defines about 30 job titles at Google covering 5,000 to 7,000 employees.

A group of female employees filed the original lawsuit last September alleging they were placed in lower-paying employment tracks, that male employees with comparable qualifications were promoted over them and that they were denied access to similar compensation and career opportunities as men.

March 2018 National Jobs Update

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged in March 2018 at 4.1%, the same as it was the previous five months. Over the previous month, unemployment rolls fell by 121,000 individuals, with total unemployment dropping to 6,585,000. National unemployment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Unemployment – 6,585,000
  • Change Over Month –   DOWN   121,000
  • Change Over Year –   DOWN   586,000
  • Change Over Trump Term –  DOWN    1,057,000
  • Rate Change Over Month – no change
  • Rate Change Over Year –  DOWN    0.4%
  • Rate Change Over Trump Term –  DOWN    0.7%
  • Rate Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  DOWN    3.2%

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. However, the national labor force fell by 158,000 individuals in March 2018, a combination of total employment* dropping by 37,000 individuals and total unemployment down by 121,000 individuals as noted above.
Year-over-year labor force growth in March 2018 stood at 1.528 million, above March 2017 year-over-year growth of roughly 980,000, but still well below March 2016 year-over-year growth of approximately 2.5 million. Thus far under President Trump, the national labor force has grown by just over 2 million (Jan. 2017-Mar. 2018). However, continued improvement will be needed to match growth seen over President Obama’s second term.

  • Total Labor Force – 161,763,000
  • Change Over Month –  DOWN    158,000
  • Change Over Year –  UP    1,528,000
  • Change Over Trump Term –  UP    2,045,000
  • Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  UP    3,955,000

Non-farm* job rolls were up in March 2018, but only by 103,000, below economist projections of 180,000 and the lowest monthly increase in the last six months. Thus far, average monthly non-farm job growth under President Trump stands at 181,000, below average monthly growth of 217,000 seen over President Obama’s second term. Year-over-year, the national economy has added 2.261 million new non-farm jobs, its lowest level in the last five years (for the month of March) and 490,000 less than the 2.751 million jobs added year-over-year in the last March (2016) President Obama was in office. These are far from the levels expected from a President who criticized growth under President Obama and said that he would be the “greatest jobs President God ever created”. Employment statistics for the month are as follows:

  • Total Employment – 148,230,000
  • Change Over Month –  UP    103,000
  • Change Over Year –   UP   2,261,000
  • Change Over Trump Term –   UP   2,534,000
  • Change Over Obama 2nd Term –  UP    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.