A minimum wage of $ 13.50 in Pennsylvania? Who is eligible
Governor Tom Wolf’s recent executive order setting the minimum wage for companies receiving state incentives at $ 13.50 an hour could push the average wage of affected workers to over $ 50,000.
On October 21, Wolf issued a sweeping workplace ordinance that included setting the minimum wage at $ 13.50 for all businesses receiving financial assistance, such as grants and tax breaks, through the State Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
The average salary of workers in companies receiving DCED assistance last year was already less than $ 50,000, many in manufacturing and information technology.
But now it should be further strengthened, state officials said.
“With Pennsylvanians renowned for our work ethic, this is an opportunity to improve jobs in the state, which will attract and retain people who work hard to make a living here and bring new industries to the Commonwealth that want a talented, skilled and dedicated workforce, ”Wolf said in a statement announcing the executive order.
Wolf’s order comes at a time when the increase in Pennsylvania’s regular minimum wage of $ 7.25 has taken on new significance amid a labor shortage that Democrats and advocates say of workers, could be solved by higher wages.
Republicans and business groups retorted that the tight labor market is already forcing companies to offer hourly wages much higher than the minimum to attract candidates.
In addition to the minimum wage standard, Wolf’s ordinance also requires companies receiving DCED incentives to offer paid sick leave to their employees.
Carry your message on the road
In Erie Thursday morning, Wolf touted the benefits of his plan to a packed house that included guests and local union leaders at the United Steelworkers building at 703 French St.
Wolf spoke about the recent trend that has seen an estimated 4.3 million workers leave their jobs, and how better wages and benefits could help employers attract and retain workers.
“Workers have a lot of options. They can work where they feel safe, where they will receive better benefits and compensation,” Wolf said. “American workers are making it clear to their employees that they deserve a better deal. We need to listen to them.”
The governor also offered his support for the legislation introduced by State Representative Pat Harkins, of Erie, D-1st Dist. this would put Pennsylvania’s public sector workers under federal occupational safety and health law, known as OSHA.
Jake Schwab’s Worker Safety Bill is named after a 48-year-old Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority worker who died seven years ago on Thursday in a workplace accident.
What changes are coming
The minimum wage for government employees under the governor’s jurisdiction and for those in companies benefiting from government incentives will increase to $ 15 an hour by July 1, 2024.
The increase for some state officials was first implemented by Wolf in an order in 2018, and the new order takes effect immediately and is not retroactive.
Thus, the minimum wage mandate will only concern companies that will host future companies.
Minimum wage:Pennsylvania employers will have to pay $ 13.50 an hour if they receive state incentives: Wolf
What is the impact ?
DCED told USA TODAY that a “program review is underway” so it could not say what types of businesses would be impacted by the order.
However, an overview of the Governor’s Action Team efforts for the 2020-21 fiscal year provides a glimpse of the possible benefits ahead.
According to DCED:
- 58 companies made investment commitments of $ 3.9 billion in the last fiscal year, the second highest amount since January 2015.
- 33,641 jobs were kept and 9,554 jobs promised to be created by these companies.
- The total payroll for these jobs is expected to exceed $ 428 million.
- The average salary was $ 49,819.
- Most of the jobs created under the program would be in manufacturing, warehousing and terminals / distribution, and computer / information systems technology.
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State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward of Westmoreland County, a Republican, criticized Wolf’s Order as an example of government “overbreadth” that would hurt small businesses.
“Pennsylvanians are tired of continuing to deal with the effects of the political agenda that has been placed on them throughout the pandemic,” Ward said in a statement.
R-Washington County Senator Camera Bartolotta, chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, echoed Ward’s concerns.
“While I support workers receiving wages and benefits in safe workplaces,” she said, “the governor’s proposals are nothing more than costly bureaucratic mandates that ignore rising wages and labor standards that we have seen for some time in a competitive job market.
Bartolotta said it was “ridiculous” of Wolf to say that raising the minimum wage for employers receiving DCED benefits would attract employees.
“In my experience, excessive government mandates limit job growth and economic development; they don’t extend it, ”she said.
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JD Prose is a reporter for the Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau of the USA TODAY Network. He can be contacted at [email protected]