Did Philly hike workers’ minimum wage? Not just yet.


At the beginning of 2019, a total of 19 states hiked their minimum wages, with numerous cities around the nation implementing their own local hikes. In Philadelphia, a wage increase is on the way as well, but it is not quite as significant or far-reaching.

Philadelphia is increasing the minimum wage for city employees, starting in July and rising over the next four years to reach $15 an hour in 2022.

While other cities and states have also implemented laddered, gradual increases of the minimum wage, they apply to all workers. In Philadelphia, the 21st Century Minimum Wage legislation that Mayor Jim Kenney signed in September raises the minimum wage only for city workers, and employees of city contractors and subcontractors.

Currently pegged at $12.20, the minimum wage will be incrementally increased over the next four years to $15 an hour.

As of July 1, 2019, workers employed by the city, as well as contractors or subcontractors paid by the city, can expect a minimum wage of $13.25 an hour.

Every year after that, it will go up in increments: to $13.75 on July 1, 2020; $14.25 one year later in 2021, and finally hitting $15 an hour as of July 1, 2022. Further minimum wage increases “based on annual consumer price index adjustments” will take place going forward after 2022, according to Kenney’s office.

“With household incomes dropping, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles of many Philadelphians — in my district and across the city,” City Councilman Mark Squilla, who introduced the 21st Century Minimum Wage Legislation, after the bill was signed. “I’m proud to have sponsored a measure that will boost the opportunities and dreams of many of those caught in such a struggle. Now that this bill has been signed into law, everyone who works for the City or one of its contractors is guaranteed what they deserve – a living wage.”

Advocates praising the change said they hope this initial move by the city will encourage private businesses and the state to also move toward wage hikes: 

“We are proud to see Philadelphia City government lead by example in creating a living wage that moves people out of poverty for its constituents,” said Rev. Greg Holston, executive director of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), said in a statement praising the bill. “Now we call on companies and the state to follow the City’s lead and raise the wages of their workers and for all Pennsylvanians.”

In contrast, New York state years ago passed minimum wage laws that hiked wages for all workers, based on location and size of company. As of Jan. 1, 2019, all New York City employees of companies with 11 or more workers now are paid a minimum wage of $15 an hour. The $15 an hour minimum wage will gradually reach all parts of the state and company sizes by 2021.

Here in Pennsylvania, the state-set minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour.

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