U.S. Senator Bob Casey, from Pennsylvania, called again this week for increases in the federal and state minimum wages, and he used U.S. Census figures to make his point.
Casey had previously called for Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to be increased to $10.10 an hour. The state currently mirrors the federal figure with a minimum wage of $7.25. Meanwhile, the neighboring states of New York, New Jersey and Ohio all increased their minimum wages at the beginning of the calendar year.
The Keystone Research Center has calculated that, if the state’s minimum wage had been kept consistent with the value at which it was set in 1968, it would currently be set at $9.40 an hour.
Casey pointed out that, based on 2012 figures, the average poverty rate in Pennsylvania stands at 13.3 percent. Philadelphia County has a poverty rate of a whopping 26.2 percent. Locally, Clarion County’s rate was listed at 17.5 percent, Venango County stood at 17 percent, and Crawford County’s figure was recorded at 15 percent.
Speaking to Congress on Tuesday, Casey also called for the extension of unemployment benefits.
President Obama is expected to touch on similar issues in his annual State of the Union address next Tuesday.