Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach: A Minimum Wage Hike Is Long Past Due

What would a minimum wage increase mean for Pennsylvania?

The Center for American Progress Fund recently released a report indicating that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate more than $1 billion for Pennsylvania's economy, as well as put more money in the pockets of 1 million working Pennsylvanians. The projected economic boost is not surprising given what leading economists, such as these 600 economists, including seven Nobel laureates, and some of the country's most successful entrepreneurs and investors like the "Smart Capitalists" have long said: increasing the minimum wage would be good for American prosperity and American businesses. 

NFIB, a front-group for large corporations, on the other hand, recently took to the opinion pages of The Patriot-News to complain about paying Pennsylvanians a fair wage for their hard work. Here's the must-read rebuttal by Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents the 17th Senate District in Montgomery County:

A Minimum Wage Hike Is Long Past Due

By Daylin Leach

Recently on PennLive, National Federation of Independent Businesses ("NFIB") Executive State Director Kevin Shivers wrote an op-Ed opposing an increase in the minimum wage. He claimed that such an increase will "cost jobs," and thus "it isn't time" to raise the wage. There are several major flaws with Mr. Shivers' argument.

First, in claiming that increasing the minimum wage will cost jobs, Mr. Shivers cites a "new report" by the "NFIB Research Foundation."

In other words, as head of the NFIB, Mr. Shivers is citing a report (not even a study) by his own organization. Somehow that doesn't seem like a neutral, credible source to me.

I would further note that as a legislator for 12 years, I've been following the NFIB for some time.

They have a perspective that leads to a predictable, right-wing position on every issue. And somehow their Research Foundation's "research" always happens to perfectly support their position on issues. It must be invigorating to be infallible.

The line should be drawn at a wage that allows someone working full-time to not live in poverty
The facts, as discerned by neutral organizations not called NFIB, such as the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, are that historically increases in the minimum wage do not cause significant job loss.

But lets pretend for a moment that some job loss will occur. That is still not a convincing argument not to raise the minimum wage.

In fact, paying workers anything could be said to cost jobs. Slavery was a full-employment program. If we could pay people $1 a day, I would probably hire ten people just to hang out and cater to my every whim (make me sandwiches, pet my cat, etc.). But I can't pay people $1 per day, so those jobs are lost.

The truth is we have to draw the line somewhere. And that line should be drawn at a wage that allows someone working full-time to not live in poverty. Merely saying that someone "has a job" and thus that is a good result regardless of the wage or benefit is simply not sufficient.

The point of a job is to lift people out of poverty and allow them to provide for themselves and their families. If a job doesn't pay a sufficient wage to provide even the basics of life, and it has no health care or other benefits, it is not worth having.

It is not enough to say "but it's a job." When a job leaves a worker deep in poverty it is exploitive, and the only one benefiting from the job is the employer, coincidentally the same people Mr. Shivers represents.

At the end of his op-Ed, Mr. Shivers says "it isn't time" to raise the minimum wage. But if you go back and look at the history of the NFIB, you will discover that it's never the time to raise the minimum wage.

There is no set of economic conditions that would cause the NFIB to call for higher wages for workers. Meanwhile, income inequality in America continues to increase to record levels, and more and more people are falling into desperate poverty. Maybe the NFIB Research Foundation can look into that.