On anniversary of last minimum wage increase, advocates call for a raise | Five for the Weekend

The federal minimum wage was at its peak purchasing power in 1968, when the minimum wage was worth $13.86 in 2022 dollars

By: - July 23, 2022 6:30 am

Happy weekend, all. 

This Sunday marks 13 years since the federal minimum wage was last raised, the longest period in history without an increase.

The federal minimum wage was at its peak purchasing power in 1968, when the minimum wage was worth $13.86 in 2022 dollars, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.

“Every day without a raise is another day the minimum wage falls further behind the cost of living,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a national organization of business owners advocating for raising the minimum wage. “When the minimum wage is set too low, workers can be making more than the minimum and still struggle to pay rent and feed themselves and their families. Minimum wage raises go right back into businesses and communities, as workers have more to spend as customers at local businesses.”

As recently as June, advocates for a minimum wage increase have urged President Joe Biden to take action on raising the federal minimum wage.

Twenty states, including Pennsylvania, have minimum wages no higher than the $7.25 federal level: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration have continued to call for a raise in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $15/hr through gradual increases.

Meanwhile, 11 states and Washington D.C. have enacted minimum wages at $15/hr or higher, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. 

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

(Image via PixaBay.com)

1. New Pa. budget includes $140M boost to state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program

Inflation is causing price hikes all around Pennsylvania, but the new state budget is looking to ease one cost for the elderly and people living with disabilities.

The $45.2 billion state budget that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week, providing a $140 million increase to the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, an action that will expand payments by 70 percent for one year.

Pennsylvanians living with a disability, widows who are aged 50 and older and general residents 65 or older can qualify. The program has income limits, excluding half of Social Security income, for homeowners with an annual income under $35,000 or renters that earn under $15,000 annually.

(C) Sandra Burm – Stock.Adobe.com

2. Pa. will add 3 new parks to state park system, Wolf admin. says

Three new state parks are in the works for Pennsylvania, state officials said this week.

Gov. Tom Wolf made the announcement in a Tweet on Tuesday that the commonwealth will make its first addition to its state park system since 2005, bringing the total number of state parks in Pennsylvania to 124.

The news comes just days after Wolf signed the 2022-23 state budget, which allocates $56 million to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees the commonwealth’s state parks and forests, for infrastructure projects to support the development of three new state parks.

Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty unveils the Department of Education’s strategic plan to recruit and retain educators in Pennsylvania during a press conference on Monday, July 18, 2022. (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

3. Wolf administration reveals multi-year plan to address educator workforce shortage

With roughly six months left in office, the Wolf administration — aiming to recruit and retain educators, build a more diverse workforce, and reduce barriers to entering the profession — has released a three-year strategic plan to address the staffing shortage in Pennsylvania schools.

The strategy, developed by the Department of Education through feedback sessions with educators across the state, includes 50 steps to address the staffing crisis, which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated, and outlines diversity and professional development goals to be achieved by August 2025.

Penn Law professor Amy Wax (University of Pennsylvania photo)
Penn Law professor Amy Wax (University of Pennsylvania photo)

4. Penn law professor faces evaluation by peers for ‘racist speech’

New accusations of “inappropriate conduct” against University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax were outlined recently in a 12-page letter to the school’s Faculty Senate by law school Dean Ted Ruger. He is requesting that the Senate levy a “major sanction” against Wax.

In the June 23 letter, Ruger said “Wax has repeatedly used the platform she was granted when she became a professor … to disparage immigrants, people of color, and women, including law students, alumni, and faculty.”

The letter states that “although imposing sanctions on a faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania is a ‘rare event,’” Wax’s conduct deserves a “major sanction against her.” The major sanction means that Wax could be suspended or fired.

Pro-abortion rights protesters gather outside the district office of state House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, on Thursday, 7/14/22 (Capital-Star photo by Jaxon White).

5. Protesters picket top Pa. House leader’s office over proposed constitutional amendment on abortion

Abortion rights activists gathered in the parking lot outside of the office of one of the top Republicans in the state Legislature on Thursday, where they intended to speak with the lawmaker in person about about GOP-backed efforts to restrict access to abortion.

A handful of protesters mounted the action outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler’s office in Lancaster County. A shipping truck wrapped in LED boards broadcast messages supporting reproductive rights and a QR code for those looking to get involved with the group.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.