Raising the minimum wage has already gained momentum nationally and is likely to be a defining issue in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial election this year. It's also a policy issue where Pennsylvania is lagging well behind our neighboring states.
It is a very good sign that prominent low-wage employers are talking in a positive way about raising wages for their workers. What to look for in the coming months is whether politicians normally opposed to a minimum wage increase begin shifting their stance.
Expect to read and hear a lot about state and federal efforts to raise the minimum wage over the next year. You can also expect to read and hear a lot about a familiar argument from opponents: that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea because it will mainly benefit teens working summer jobs for extra cash. Simply put, that argument is just not true.
One justification cited by The Times for paying fast-food workers more is the savings to governmental public assistance programs for low-wage workers. A recent study found that more than half of fast-food workers rely on public assistance.
Ron Unz, a conservative Silicon Valley millionaire and past Editor of The American Conservative, favors increasing California's minimum wage to $12 per hour. The arguments he is making explain why a much higher minimum wage strengthens the economy and benefits taxpayers.