Governor Tom Wolf commented on a United Way of Pennsylvania report about families and households earning above the Federal Poverty Level, but still struggling to cover basic needs and make ends meet. Governor Wolf said the report confirms the need for living wages, more education and job training opportunities, and supportive services in an economy that works for everyone.
“More Pennsylvanians have jobs than ever before, but too many hardworking people are making poverty wages,” said Governor Wolf. “It should be unacceptable to all of us when people are working harder and harder, but still struggling to pay for housing, food, childcare, transportation and other basic needs”
“I applaud the United Way of Pennsylvania for continuing to bring attention to the many people in our community who are working, but low wages and rising costs make it hard for them to keep up. We must act to ensure workers stop falling behind.”
Governor Wolf has proposed to increase the middle class by prioritizing good jobs with higher wages, better education and job training, and improved services. As part of a comprehensive workforce development strategy, the governor launched PAsmart last year to invest in science and technology education and job training, and this year proposed the Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP). The program expands early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and collaborates with the private sector and stakeholders so workers have the credentials and training that employers need.
Parents cannot break out of poverty if they cannot work. SWEAP would expand home-visiting programs for pregnant women and at-risk infants and toddlers, reduce waiting lists for childcare, and provide wrap-around services so parents can attend college or other training to get skills for family-sustaining jobs.
The governor is also urging the General Assembly to boost incomes for more than 2 million workers by raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour with a pathway to $15 by 2025. Pennsylvania’s $7.25 minimum is at the federal floor.
“Pennsylvania is behind other states – including all of our neighbors – in ensuring fair wages that keep up with the cost of living,” said Governor Wolf. “We must act so families stop falling behind. Our communities cannot afford to have so many working people struggling to keep food on the table and pay the rent. It’s time for the legislature to finally raise the wage.”