PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Sunday marks the 13th year since the last federal minimum wage increase, to $7.25 an hour.
Since then multiple states, including New Jersey, have raised minimum wage rates to $13 dollars an hour or higher. However, twenty states, including Pennsylvania, have minimum hourly wages that are no higher than the current federal wage. A couple of those states, Georgia and Wyoming, have a $5.15 hourly minimum wage.
Some business owners in our region told KYW Newsradio they would like to see that rate go up, echoing calls nationwide for raising it to $15 an hour.
"The best thing for my business is to put more money in the hands of the working class," he said, explaining that bumping up the minimum wage to $15 over the next few years would benefit business owners.
"The employees [are] people. If they're working for $7.25 an hour, they're not able to make ends meet and they're stressed, and that's going to show up in their work performance and their morale, and their dedication to us."
Opponents of the minimum wage have said the increase will be passed on to the consumer and will raise the price of a number of goods and services.
While thirty states now have minimum wages higher than $7.25, most of them are still below the value of the federal minimum wage in 1968. At the time, it was $1.62, which, in 2022 dollars, is $13.86 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"It also increases the buying power of people in hourly paid jobs," said Amy Edelman, who has owned and operated Germantown Avenue's Night Kitchen Bakery and Cafe for decades. She pointed out just how slow hourly wages have changed over the years.
"When I first started out in the restaurant business back in the 1980s, I was making $4.25 an hour and it's unbelievable that 40 years later, it's only at a few dollars more an hour," she recalled.
"It's poverty wages and it's not right. We're the richest country in the world and we should make sure all our citizens are taken care of."
Nash and Edelman both called for immediate action from politicians on this issue, saying increasing the federal minimum wage would keep people from dependence on government assistance programs.
"I’m not a huge fan of people getting things for free, but I am a huge fan of those who work the hardest in this economy and those are the ones who work hourly jobs [getting] paid what they’re worth," said Nash.