In January, the minimum wage rose to $8.25 an hour in New Jersey, $8 in New York, and to $7.95 in Ohio — while here in Pennsylvania it remains at the federal level of $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2009. Legislation in Pennsylvania would change that, raising the state's wage to $9 an hour by 2015.
With raising the minimum wage likely to be a defining issue in this year's gubernatorial race — and a national campaign to raise the wage gaining momentum in the wake of stagnating wages and a series of strikes at fast-food restaurants — expect to read and hear a lot about state and federal efforts to raise the minimum wage over the next year.
You can also expect to read and hear a lot about a familiar argument from opponents: that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea because it will mainly benefit teens working summer jobs for extra cash.
Simply put, that argument is just not true.
As I testified on January 9 before the House Democratic Policy Committee, most of the million workers in Pennsylvania who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour (as President Obama has proposed) are adults working more than 20 hours a week and contributing a notable share to their family's income.
These figures sum it up nicely (relying on research by David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute).