President Barack Obama’s call for an increase to the federal minimum wage would benefit Pennsylvania workers now making the state minimum wage of $7.25, but Gov. Tom Corbett said he’s not sure what kind of impact such a move would make on the still rebounding state economy.
“The economy’s starting to come back,” said Corbett, during an interview Friday at The Times Leader. “I always worry about changing the dynamic when we’re starting to come out of (the recession.)”
Corbett said there is no plan at the state level to bump up the state’s minimum wage which currently mirrors the federal minimum wage level.
The president’s proposal was met with support from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, who said, “Raising the minimum wage is about basic fairness and economic security for Pennsylvania’s workers and families. Congress should have an up or down vote on raising the minimum wage. Passing this bill will increase Pennsylvania’s GDP by over $1 billion and add thousands of jobs. It will have positive economic impacts for the entire state not just those working for the minimum wage.”
But not all of Casey’s congressional colleagues agree.
Effect on workers
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, said raising the minimum wage will guarantee one thing: “People lose their jobs.”
Not only will current jobs be eliminated but it will prevent others from landing jobs, which for many are the first rung on the employment ladder, Toomey said.
He said from a financial standpoint, it actually hurts workers, not helps them.
“The question of raising the minimum wage is really an issue from the first chapter of the text book from Economics 101. If you raise the price of a commodity — in this case labor — you increase the cost of doing business. Let’s not be fooled into thinking of the issue in terms of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate company, since what we’re really talking about are franchise owners, small businesses that have a finite amount of resources,” said U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton.
“These are meant to be starter jobs, largely filled by young people who would suddenly find greater competition for fewer positions. You might also be talking about seniors supplementing their income. When the economy is down and job growth is needed, making it more expensive to hire people in entry level positions is counterproductive,” Barletta added.
The minimum wage discussion has been in the news recently thanks to protests at fast food restaurants over employee pay. A protest was held outside the McDonald’s on Route 315 in Pittston Township on Thursday with those holding signs demanding as much as $15 for the fast food workers.
Barletta said these protests are part of a bigger movement, not just focusing on fast food workers.
“From what I have seen of these protests, it looks less like actual fast food workers and more like an outgrowth of the Occupy movement with participants protesting everything from wages to the World Bank,” Barletta said.