The Lead

Some Pa. workers can get a temporary $3 an hour raise under new state grant

By: - July 16, 2020 4:42 pm

Some Pennsylvania frontline workers could see up to $1,200 extra in their pockets this fall due to a new state program that uses federal stimulus dollars.

The funds, approved by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly, can add up to $3 an hour to the wages of about 46,000 full- and part-time workers who currently make less than $20 an hour for ten weeks, from August until October.

Eligible workers include nursing home attendants, grocery store cashiers, hospital security guards and bus drivers, among others.

Lawmakers advance plan to spend $2.6 billion of Pennsylvania’s coronavirus stimulus

The pay will “help hard-working employees offset costs associated with working through the COVID-19 pandemic,” such as purchasing masks or finding child care, Wolf said during a Thursday news conference.

Wolf added that he hoped the money would “serve as a thank you” to workers “who we, sometimes, I think, took for granted.”

“They’ve kept our economy going, they’ve kept food on our tables, and they’ve kept us safe,” Wolf said.

All told lawmakers made $50 million available to boost hazard pay for workers, or just under 2 percent of the $2.6 billion in federal stimulus dollars that the state has used so far. Another $1 billion remains unspent.

Only private businesses, health care nonprofits, public transit authorities, and certified economic development agencies can apply for the hazard pay grants.

The temporary raise is also restricted to workers in eligible industries, such as hospitals, nursing homes, transportation, food retail and manufacturing, and janitorial work. Find a full list of eligible industries here.

For workers to receive the pay, eligible employers must apply for a state grant. The employers then distribute the money to employees. No more than 500 full time workers can benefit from a grant to a single employer.

Employers can apply for a grant, which maxes out at $3 million, until July 31. 

Employees who receive the pay bump will see a wage increase from August 16 to October 24.

The funding is the latest in a number of targeted programs for often low paid, frontline service workers to come online after the state approved a first round of stimulus use in June.

Other financial assistance approved by lawmakers, and signed by Wolf, include $175 million in rental and mortgage aid, $116 million for child care, and $50 million in food assistance. Applications for the rental aid began July 6.

“It remains critical we continue to direct resources to recovery efforts of this nature that focus on helping the people directly,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes, of Philadelphia, and the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.