Minimum wage hike due; Too much would stifle state economy

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, making it one of 21 states to hold the line since then.

It’s time for a minimum wage hike.

But it’s not time to raise it from $7.25 an hour to $12 an hour, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf in his state budget plan which is now being discussed.

An increase in the minimum wage to that degree would choke off the number of entry-level jobs, which are held by the people a minimum wage hike is intended to help.

Such a sharp increase also would put the squeeze on small businesses. Most of them are owned not by millionaires and billionaires but regular business people who operate on small profit margins.

If they have to pay that much more for their employees, they will cut staffing. Not because they want to, but because they have to as a means of survival.

The higher minimum wage earners also would fall into a dangerous economic place. They would still probably be earning too little to survive without public benefits and the wage increase to $12 an hour likely would put them above the eligibility bracket.

Hopefully, these budget talks will yield a compromise that benefits workers, employers and consumers.

We need – and workers deserve – a hike in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.

But an immediate hike to $12 an hour and annual 50-cent-an-hour increases to $15 an hour by 2025 is simply too much. The math does not work for employers or workers.

An increase much more modest that boosts salaries of lower-wage employees but still allows them to access public benefits programs and also allows small businesses that make up most of our economy to survive makes more sense.