To earn a living wage for a family of four while only making minimum wage, the two adults in that family would each have to work 68 hours a week. Another option, according to state Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny), is to raise the current $7.25 minimum wage so that families in Pennsylvania could buy groceries and live comfortably while earning minimum wage.
To emphasize this point Costa spent Monday morning grocery shopping with only $52, the estimated weekly amount of money people living on minimum wage have to spend. When checking out, Costa said he even had to put back a few items after going over his budget.
“What if the kids were sick and needed over the counter medication? You wouldn’t even be able to buy that, but obviously you would need that, so that would require you to give back even more of the food you bought. So you’re making a choice between, do I hope they feel better, and not buy something like that or do I tend to their illnesses,” said Costa.
These choices shouldn’t have to be made according to Costa. Instead he would like to see families making enough money to survive comfortably.
“People that are collecting these minimum wages they’re hard working people. Some of them have two jobs, 50 percent of them are woman and, they are the bread winners of their family. So how do you make ends meet,” said Costa.
With only five more voting days left in this legislative session, Costa does not believe any of the various competing bills to raise the minimum wage will be passed before the Legislature adjourns. Costa hopes that when the new session starts next year a single bill will emerge rather than the multiple bills that are currently floating around the capitol.
Costa says he would like to see the minimum wage raised to $11-11.50 an hour over several gradual increases.
“We just can’t have hard working people that are willing to go out, and work one or two jobs continuing to struggle, because they’re just going to wind up depending more and more on the government to survive, and they don’t want that and neither do we. We want them to be independent,” said Costa.