State Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, reintroduced legislation that would increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania from $7.15 to $9 per hour.
House Bill 1057 would raise the state's minimum wage to $9 an hour and provide subsequent annual cost-of-living increases indexed to the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area, beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
Cohen said his legislation parallels President Barack Obama’s recent announcement calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $9. Eighteen states have passed minimum wage rates above the federal minimum of $7.25.
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines for 2013, an annual income of $19,530 would place a family of three at the poverty line. Pennsylvania’s current minimum wage of $7.15 allows that same family to earn only $14,872 - less than the HHS guidelines for a family of two, Cohen said.
"To think that a single mother could work a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job and fall nearly $5,000 below the poverty line is unconscionable and should be morally unacceptable to most people in today's society," said Cohen, Democratic chairman of the House State Government Committee.
Eight states - California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - plus the District of Columbia, have a minimum wage equal to or more than $8. Many of the states also have adopted a cost-of-living or an adjustment using the Consumer Price Index for urban populations.
New York is in the process of implementing a higher minimum wage with the following schedule: $8 on Jan. 1, 2014, $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015 and $9 on Jan. 1, 2016.
New Jersey has a bill that would raise the minimum wage to at least $8.25, as well as provide a COLA in future years.