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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

As others see pay hikes, PA minimum wage stuck at $7.25

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Tuesday, January 2, 2024   

Low-wage workers in Pennsylvania are missing out on the pay hikes taking effect in 22 other states and 43 cities and counties this month, through increases in their minimum wages.

Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center, said Pennsylvania is surrounded by neighboring states all are ringing in the new year with higher minimum wages. Since 2009, Pennsylvania's minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour, which he said hurts workers, the economy and small businesses.

"A higher minimum wage would increase the pay of 1.4 million Pennsylvania workers and create more economy-boosting jobs, with wages high enough to increase worker buying power at local businesses," Herzenberg explained. "A higher minimum wage will also benefit Pennsylvania small businesses who can't find or keep workers now because they pay too little."

Herzenberg pointed out people working in low-wage industries are paid $1 to $1.50 less per hour in Pennsylvania than in neighboring states. But backers of the current minimum wage said increasing it would be difficult for small business owners, who might then have to cut jobs or raise prices.

It is up to the General Assembly to set the minimum wage, and Herzenberg noted the new year might bring a change. The state House passed House Bill 1500, legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. The idea has bipartisan support, but the Senate has not yet acted on a similar bill, Senate Bill 743.

"This bill would increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour immediately, and to $15 an hour by 2026," Herzenberg noted. "Pennsylvanians need to contact their state senator and urge them to support raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage so that our lower-wage workers earn enough to support their family."

He added the purchasing power of a dollar also has declined since the last minimum-wage increase. Ultimately, low-wage workers in the state have seen their buying power decrease by 30% in the past 14 years.

Disclosure: The Keystone Research Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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