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Labor Report

Wages Higher, Employment Strong in New York State Since Minimum Wage Increases

New York’s progressive minimum wage laws have led to higher paychecks for the state’s low-wage workers relative to their Pennsylvania counterparts without harming the state’s employment rate, according to new research.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York published those conclusions in its Liberty Street Economics blog on September 25. In a comparison of data from border counties within New York and Pennsylvania, researchers found that average weekly earnings for low-wage workers in the retail and leisure/hospitality industries have risen faster in New York than in PA since New York began raising its minimum wage in 2014. Meanwhile, New York has performed at least as well as PA – if not better – for employment rates in those industries.

At $7.25 an hour, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage for non-tipped workers matches the federal minimum, which has not been raised in 13 years. Conversely, since 2013 New York has enacted a series of laws to raise its minimum wage in increments. The rate for most of the state (outside the New York City area) is due to reach $12.50 an hour by 2021. Within the city, the minimum for all employers will be $15 by the end of 2019.

By evaluating average wages and employment rates in border states in New York and Pennsylvania, researchers were able to compare conditions in largely analogous geographic areas with one major difference – applicable minimum wage policy.

In the leisure and hospitality industry, both states experienced similar employment growth before 2014 and immediately after New York began raising its minimum wage. However, when New York’s minimum wage surpassed $10 an hour in 2018, employment began increasing faster there than in Pennsylvania. Similarly, average weekly earnings in New York began to increase substantially faster in New York than in PA when New York’s minimum wage surpassed $9.

In the retail industry, employment declined similarly in both states despite the differences in minimum wage. However, paychecks began to increase faster in New York than in Pennsylvania after the New York minimum wage surpassed $9.

PA Labor Department Reminds Employers that Child Workers Must Have a Permit

Now that the school year is in full swing across Pennsylvania, the  Department of Labor & Industry wants to remind employers that the state’s Child Labor Law limits working hours and the types of work that may be performed by employees under age 18 while in school.

“Students who work during the school year can get valuable work experience and earn a paycheck year-round. But businesses that hire young people must follow the laws in place to protect younger workers, prioritize their education, and ensure they have a safe, positive experience,” said Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, according to the Times Leader.

The Child Labor Law restricts where minors can work, their occupations, their work conditions, and the hours that they can work. Different regulations are in effect for children less than age 14, those age 14 and 15, and those age 16 and 17.
“All minors under 16 must have a written statement by the minor’s parent or guardian acknowledging the duties and hours of employment and granting permission to work,” the newspaper reported. “All minors under 18 must obtain a work permit before starting work.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Child Labor Law. Each school district is responsible for issuing work permits to all minors who reside in the district including those who attend non-public schools, cyber charter schools, or are participating in a home education program. Even high school graduates who are under 18 must obtain a work permit from the school district where they reside or from the college or trade school that they attend.

SEIU Janitors and Allies March Seeking Fair Long-Term Contract

An estimated 1,000 property-service workers and their supporters marched through Downtown Philadelphia on September 26 to raise awareness about their fight for a fair contract from the city’s large commercial property owners.

Leaders of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union led the demonstration that marched through the Center City business district and Rittenhouse Square, which is one of the city’s most expensive residential districts. They carried purple and gold banners and signs, while leaders spoke through bullhorns, according to The Philadelphia Tribune.

“Nearly 3,000 of the city’s office cleaners are covered under a union contract that expires on October 15,” the Tribune reported. “32BJ SEIU is negotiating with the Building Operators Labor Relations, which represents the city’s largest building owners and contractors.”

According to a union statement, the members are employed in 120 office buildings across the city and mostly live in the city’s poor and working-class neighborhoods.

“Their jobs – bolstered by Center City’s booming commercial real estate industry – often support multiple generations and have a ripple effect throughout the neighborhoods that need it most,” the union stated.

The Philadelphia workers are among more than 75,000 office cleaners along the East Coast of the U.S. who are bargaining for contracts this year. SEIU describes the process as “the largest private-sector contract negotiations taking place in the country.” 32BJ has more than 175,000 members in 11 states, including 21,000 in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

During the demonstration, 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg described the Philadelphia negotiation as a harbinger of the broader fight for fair contracts.

“We have to win here in Philly,” he said, according to the Tribune. “We’ll be bargaining in our jurisdiction for over 70,000 office cleaners, and if we don’t win here (employers) are going to come after us everywhere.”

UPS’s Next Big Distribution Center May Be Coming to Northeast Philly

United Parcel Service, which already employs 19,000 drivers and staff at package-sorting and logistics centers across Pennsylvania, is considering the acquisition of a 138-acre site in Northeast Philadelphia as a potential distribution hub, the Inquirer reported.

Citing “local UPS and industry sources,” the newspaper stated that the shipping company is eyeing a parcel long occupied by a Budd Company railroad car manufacturing plant, and more recently proposed as a pharmaceutical distribution center.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based company reportedly told the newspaper that “Philadelphia is one of the locations UPS is considering to further optimize our ground network across the Northeast,” but she refused to comment on whether the former Budd property is under consideration.

The Inquirer reported that the company is already the fifth-largest for-profit employer in the state. Unlike UPS, the four largest are all retail store chains.

UPS plans to hire 4,400 seasonal workers to staff its facilities near Philadelphia International Airport and in the suburbs during the peak holiday season, a figure that is more than 3,000 fewer than it hired last year, according to the Business Journal.

“At the airport, 25 miles from (the Northeast site), Philadelphia is already home to one of six main UPS airport hubs in the country,” the Inquirer reported. “But the city has mostly missed out on the warehouse boom that has transformed U.S. retailing and created tens of thousands of jobs in former mining and factory regions elsewhere in Eastern Pennsylvania.”

Those newer facilities include UPS’s 1 million-square-foot “peak season hub” in Northampton County, which opened last year and employs about 900 people, according to the Morning Call, as well as an 850,000-square-foot FedEx regional hub also in Northampton County that employs about 1,000 people, according to Lehigh Valley Live.