“The power of God’s suffering, self-giving love transforms and challenges the Church to stand with all who are overlooked for the sake of economic progress or greed. Confession of faith ought to flow into acts of justice for the sake of the most vulnerable.” Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, 1999
Fair wages for the poor are expressly supported in Deuteronomy. “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer … but you must pay him his wages on the same day … for he is needy and urgently depends on it …” — Deuteronomy 24:14-15. Lutherans affirm that God is active in economic life and the mission of Jesus to “bring good news to the poor” includes addressing the conditions that make and keep people poor. As a faith community, we value the principle of sufficiency for all, which includes access to adequate income to meet basic needs and public policies that ensure dignity for those who labor. Working together as Lutherans on minimum wage expresses our deep commitment to addressing the complex causes of poverty and our call to promote the common good. We all benefit when those who receive the least for their hard work are better rewarded for their labor and can more fully contribute to the life we share. At the same time, we recognize that this is one piece of what must be a broad strategy to relieve poverty.
What is the Status of Minimum Wage in PA?
The Commonwealth’s minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour for nine years and, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry, 4.1 percent of Pennsylvania’s workforce — 106,000 people — earned the minimum or less in 2017. Of those workers, 62.3 percent were women and 40,000 men or 2.4 percent of all men.
Raising the wage will help address the ability of our neighbors to afford necessities, such as paying the rent, buying groceries or filling the car with gas. Although the current $7.25/hour has remained flat since 2009, housing, food and transportation costs have steadily increased. Pennsylvania is the only mid-Atlantic state that has not raised its wage above $7.25.
LAMPa supports an increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania that will take into account the impact on nonprofit organizations, including: phasing in to lessen the impact of increased costs on our social service safety net; that new revenues be earmarked to increase reimbursement to help lessen the impact of wage increases and a formula that ties future increases of the minimum wage to an annual wage index.
ALICE Report for Pennsylvania – This ALICE Report for Pennsylvania describes the population called ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — families with income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not high enough to afford basic household necessities or save for the future. With the cost of living higher than what most people earn, ALICE households live in every county in Pennsylvania — urban, suburban, and rural — and they include women and men, young and old, of all races and ethnicities. Click here for the full report.