Pennsylvania is stuck on the embarrassingly low minimum wage of $7.25 per hour– the same as the federal minimum wage – and it has been unchanged for the past 10 years, while the cost of living has risen significantly since 2009. It has lost about 9.6% of its purchasing power to inflation, according to a 2017 report by the Pew Research Center.
Rebuttal—— A different study by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley showed no employment loss in six cities that had raised wages above $10 by 2016 — Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., Oakland and San Jose. Rather, that study found that average weekly earnings for workers in the food service industry went up between 1.3% and 2.5% for every 10% increase in the minimum wage.
Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton are economic engines. The workers who generate the revenue deserve to be paid a living wage. With the rising cost of living, the people who built these cities can no longer afford to live in them.
Raising the minimum wage will increase incomes for thousands of working families, allowing them to afford their basic necessities.
In order to rebuild the middle class and boost the economy, the minimum wage must be a living wage. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers.
Across the country, over 24 cities have raised the minimum wage gradually by using ordinances or resolutions and local businesses have profited. The Lehigh Valley should join that movement so that residents can afford to live here.
Taiba Sultana is a progressive activist and Vice-Chair of the Northampton County Democratic Committee.