Gov. Tom Wolf repeated his call to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 an hour during a news conference last week with Democratic lawmakers.
The PA Chamber continues to speak out about the negative impact this proposal would have on employers, as evidenced by input from our broad-based membership (especially nonprofits and small businesses) who indicate this dramatic cost increase would lead to reduced hours for employees and job loss. Their concerns are consistent with nonpartisan studies that show these “feel good” mandates often do more harm than help. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office released a report just last week which concluded that an increase to $15 an hour across the nation (which the Biden administration is pushing for) would lead to a loss of 1.4 million jobs.
Our organization is urging lawmakers to pursue policies that target support to low-income workers without harming the overall economy. For example, many states have implemented a state Earned Income Tax Credit to supplement the federal program and provide financial assistance to low-income workers. The legislature should also work to strengthen workforce development programs so Pennsylvanians can gain the skills they need to move upward in their chosen field, which will lead to higher wages.
The PA Chamber’s advocacy related to the governor’s extreme minimum wage proposal was most recently highlighted in a Pennlive story, which quoted our response to the governor’s call for a higher wage in his 2021-22 state budget proposal that said, “The administration’s aggressive proposal to more than double the state’s minimum wage to $15 will increase labor costs and lead to further job loss.” PA Chamber President Gene Barr also spoke extensively to the consequences of government-mandated wage hikes in a recent podcast with the Pennsylvania Business Report.