Subscribe to E-Update here.  
Labor Report

New Statewide Poll Shows Broad Support for Raising Minimum Wage

Time to Raise the WageA new statewide poll shows broad support across Pennsylvania for raising the minimum wage and eliminating the state’s subminimum wage, also known as the tipped wage, the Keystone Research Center announced earlier this month.

The poll, conducted during the first week of April, found that 56 percent of respondents support a $15 per hour minimum wage while simultaneously eliminating the tipped minimum wage of $2.83. Senator Tartaglione’s Senate Bill 1044  proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15 by Jan. 1, 2024. Sen. Art Haywood’s SB 1045 would raise the tipped minimum wage to $15 by Jan. 1, 2027.

In addition, the poll found that 62 percent of respondents support raising the standard minimum to $12 an hour while eliminating the subminimum wage. Even among left-leaning and moderate Republicans there was 55 percent support for a $12 standard minimum.

As public interest in both Senate bills grows, Keystone has released a series of fact sheets containing information about the workers that would be impacted by minimum wage increases statewide, as well as for each county, state Senate district, state House district and Congressional district. Visit the Keystone website to access the fact sheets.

We the People Launches Campaign for Health, Safety and Prosperity

Trickle-down economics STILL doesn’t work: that was the message a new coalition of organizations and citizen advocates delivered in the Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, May 17, when they announced the launch of their We the People campaign.

“For too long we have listened to extremists who tell us that economic growth is created by lower taxes and lowering wages so that we can encourage business investment,” said Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “When we went around the state and listened to what Pennsylvanians want from state government to help their communities thrive, they talked to us about investing in people, not some false notion of cutting our way to prosperity.”

We the People is a statewide, non-partisan issue advocacy campaign that bases its platform on public comments generated during 13 meetings organizers held throughout Pennsylvania. Participants said they want state government to adopt policies that help poor, working class and middle-class people safer, healthier and more prosperous. Click here for information on the issues.

The campaign also released the results of a statewide survey it conducted involving 1,150 registered voters. An overwhelming majority feel that state government is investing too little, not too much, in Pennsylvania communities, despite efforts by some legislative leaders to cut Medicaid and SNAP benefits, to undermine labor unions and blocking tax increases for natural gas drillers. Respondents support additional investment in education, transportation infrastructure, job training and combating opioid addiction.

European Union Threatens to Impose Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Exports

TrumpThe European Union has prepared a list of $3.4 billion worth of tariffs it may impose on U.S. products in retaliation for President Trump’s protectionist policy on steel and aluminum imports, according to the Washington Post.

Speaking at an EU summit in Bulgaria, French President Emmanuel Macron called upon Trump to exempt Europe permanently from the steel and aluminum tariffs, claiming that the measures “contravene the laws of international trade” and threaten Europe’s economic sovereignty.

In March, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on foreign steel and 10 percent of foreign aluminum, but granted the EU a temporary exemption until June 1, the Post stated. Macron and German Chancellor Andrea Merkel each said they seek an unlimited exemption for Europe and are willing to renegotiate trade relationships with the U.S. without a looming deadline.

The Trump administration shouldn’t have been surprised by the EU’s response. Just last month, the New York Times consulted numerous respected economists in the academic and political sectors who warned that Trump’s tariffs would “backfire by raising costs to American businesses and consumers, and by inviting retaliation against American exporters.”

Women Law School Profs Win $2.7M Equal Pay Settlement

The University of Denver has agreed to pay $2.66 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit alleging that university’s Sturm College of Law paid its women professors less than their male counterparts. A federal court in Colorado approved the consent decree on May 17, according to the Denver Post.

UD further agreed to give women professors raises this year and to eliminate the gender pay gap within the university. Attorneys for a half-dozen plaintiffs claimed that a pay disparity between men and women has existed at the university for decades.

One woman law professor, Lucy Marsh, initiated the complaint with the EEOC in 2013. She began working at the university in 1973 and became a full professor in 1982. She claimed she was the lowest-paid law professor, earning $109,000 a year compared to the median salary among her peers of $149,000.

One year earlier, after the university enacted raises for the law professors, women law professors had an average salary $15,859 less than their male counterparts.

University of Denver is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian university with about 12,000 students equally divided between undergraduates and post-graduates.

SCOTUS Set to Rule on Employer-imposed Mandatory Arbitration

ACMEThe AFSCME vs. Janus case involving union fee paycheck deductions has been garnering much of the public attention toward the 2017-18 U.S. Supreme Court term. But another pending matter before the court may also have a profound, lasting impact on employee-employer relations. reports that the court may soon rule on three cases related to employer-mandated arbitration policies. The issue is whether employers will be permitted to force workers to sign away their rights to participate in class-action lawsuits.
“It’s unclear where SCOTUS will land on the issue, though some say oral arguments seemed to some observers to lean toward employers,” reported.

“A ruling that’s favorable to employees could dramatically increase the number of successful wage theft cases, because class-actions are the most effective tool to return stolen wages,” the news agency added, citing an expert opinion from a San Francisco attorney who has been fighting mandatory arbitration for more than a decade.

The New York Times reported in October that the court’s ruling could affect some 25 million employment contracts in effect across the nation. A ruling favorable to employers could “cut out the entire heart of the New Deal,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said according to the Times.

Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.7 Percent in April, while jobs increase for 13th straight month

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) released its monthly employment report on Friday, May 18. As unemployment declined in April, the number of jobs in the commonwealth reached a record high for the 13th consecutive month.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in April, representing a decline of one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month. This was the first decline in the rate after 10 consecutive months when the rate remained at 4.8 percent. The commonwealth’s unemployment rate remains above the U.S. rate, which fell two-tenths of a percentage point in April to 3.9 percent. Since April 2017, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate has declined by two-tenths of a percentage point.

The estimated number of Pennsylvania residents working or looking for work, known as the civilian labor force, declined by 16,000 over the month to 6,378,000 as both components (employment and unemployment) declined. Resident employment and unemployment each declined over the previous 12 months, by 36,000 and 21,000, respectively.

The estimated number of jobs in Pennsylvania, also known as total nonfarm jobs, was up 9,100 from March to a record high of 6,015,300. Highlights from this month’s jobs report include:

  • Thirteenth consecutive record month.
  • Jobs were up in six of the 11 industry supersectors.
  • Record levels of jobs in professional & business services, education & health services and other services.
  • Professional & business services experienced the largest gain in April, up 5,100.

Since April 2017, total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania are up 1.4 percent while nine supersectors in the commonwealth have added jobs with increases ranging from 2,200 in mining and logging to 37,800 in education and health services.

Note: The above data are seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted data provide the most valid month-to-month comparison.

Additional information is available on the L&I website at and by following the department on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Current Labor Force Statistics
Seasonally Adjusted
(in thousands)

        Change from Change from
  April March April March 2018 April 2017
  2018 2018 2017 volume percent volume percent
Civilian Labor Force 6,378 6,394 6,435 -16 -0.3% -57 -0.9%
Employment 6,081 6,089 6,117 -8 -0.1% -36 -0.6%
Unemployment 297 304 318 -7 -2.3% -21 -6.6%
Rate 4.7 4.8 4.9 -0.1 ---- -0.2 ----
Civilian Labor Force 161,527 161,763 160,181 -236 -0.1% 1,346 0.8%
Employment 155,181 155,178 153,161 3 0.0% 2,020 1.3%
Unemployment 6,346 6,585 7,021 -239 -3.6% -675 -9.6%
Rate 3.9 4.1 4.4 -0.2 ---- -0.5 ---

Pennsylvania Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment
Seasonally Adjusted
(in thousands)

        Change from Change from
  April March April March 2018 April 2017
  2018 2018 2017 volume percent volume percent
Total Nonfarm Jobs 6,015.3 6,006.2 5,931.7 9.1 0.2% 83.6 1.4%
Goods Producing Industries 848.7 848.5 833.1 0.2 0.0% 15.6 1.9%
  Mining & Logging 28.1 27.8 25.9 0.3 1.1% 2.2 8.5%
  Construction 255.2 255.9 245.2 -0.7 -0.3% 10.0 4.1%
  Manufacturing 565.4 564.8 562.0 0.6 0.1% 3.4 0.6%
Service Providing Industries 5,166.6 5,157.7 5,098.6 8.9 0.2% 68.0 1.3%
  Trade, Transportation & Utilities 1,130.7 1,130.6 1,127.3 0.1 0.0% 3.4 0.3%
  Information 81.6 81.8 83.5 -0.2 -0.2% -1.9 -2.3%
  Financial Activities 322.8 322.9 320.5 -0.1 0.0% 2.3 0.7%
  Professional & Business Services 815.7 810.6 799.1 5.1 0.6% 16.6 2.1%
  Education & Health Services 1,276.0 1,273.6 1,238.2 2.4 0.2% 37.8 3.1%
  Leisure & Hospitality 573.3 573.7 566.1 -0.4 -0.1% 7.2 1.3%
  Other Services 266.0 263.6 261.2 2.4 0.9% 4.8 1.8%
  Government 700.5 700.9 702.7 -0.4 -0.1% -2.2 -0.3%