KRC Reports in Small Bites: The Minimum Wage Report 2018: Post 1 of 6

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We write a lot and that makes it hard to find the time to catch up on our latest research. To make our work easier to digest in 2018, we are breaking reports up into smaller bite size pieces and posting them here. This post is the first in a series of six highlighting key findings from our latest report The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage in 2018. Netflix down? Can't read another grim news story? You can binge on the full report here.

How has the minimum wage changed since 1968?

In 1968, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania was set at just over half (51%) the value of the median wage ($1.60 compared to $3.15) for full-time full-year workers. After 1968, minimum wage increases were less frequent and never made up for the ground lost between increases considered relative to inflation or relative to the median wage.

By our projections the minimum wage in 2018 will stand at 31.9% of median wage for Pennsylvania workers, its lowest point since 2006 when it stood at 30% of the median wage. In 2006, Pennsylvania policymakers agreed to raise the Pennsylvania minimum wage in 2007 from $5.15 to $7.15. The figure below provides some context for the aspirations of advocates for a higher minimum wage. Raising the minimum to $9 this July would push the minimum wage to 39% of the median wage – its relative value in 2007. A $12 minimum wage pushes the minimum wage to 49% of the median, just shy of its level relative to the median in 1968, and $15 pushes the relative value of minimum beyond that previous peak to 57% of the median wage.

Our next post will explore how the minimum wage has changed in our region in the last several years.

P.S. Want to amaze your friends and family with historical information on wages? Be warned when I share data at cocktail parties I find people are so blown away they go away very quickly  I assume to tell others. Here is the full time series of the minimum wage and the median wage for a full-time full-year worker in Pennsylvania. You're welcome!


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