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Leaders renew push for increase in state's minimum wage

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is a renewed push to put more money into workers' paychecks. 

State Secretary of Labor and Industry Jennifer Berrier was in Pittsburgh on Thursday calling for a raise in the state's minimum wage. She says it's long past due and Pennsylvania's leaders should set the minimum at $15 an hour.  

Pennsylvania has a lower minimum wage than any of the states that border it. The current wage is $7.25 an hour, and it's been this way for about 16 years. The big concern anytime this is brought up: What is the impact on small businesses?

"It's hard to find good people. When you have them, you got to keep them," Yinzers in the Burgh owner Jim Coen said.  

Some employers like Coen are paying employees more to keep them retained.  

"People have to be able to live their lives," he told KDKA. 

This echoes the calls of Berrier, who said our current minimum wage is not acceptable.  

"How did all of our neighbors figure it out, but we can't in Pennsylvania?" she said.  

According to reports, our neighbors are higher. Ohio is $9.30 an hour, New York is $13.20, New Jersey is $13, Maryland set it at $12.50 and West Virginia is $8.75 per hour.  

"There is great competition right now for Pennsylvania workers," state House Republican Caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman said.  

State Republicans said many employers have raised their wages. They feel after the pandemic restrictions, the government should be more hands-off.  

"Now's not the time for mandates on businesses. We need to figure out how to grow jobs and grow investment in our communities," Gottesman said.  

"We should be doing this, and it should have been done yesterday," Democratic state Rep. Emily Kinkead said.  

There are multiple bills in Harrisburg laying out how to get to $15 an hour. It would start by making the minimum wage $12 an hour and then to $15 an hour after five years. 

KDKA-TV did a breakdown of what $7.25 an hour can get you. 

Right now, it would be less than 2 gallons of gas based on the Pittsburgh average of $4.69 a gallon. The average cost of a loaf of bread is $2.50, so you can almost get three loaves. Two percent milk is $4.89 a gallon, so you could get about 1 1/2 gallons. Then a dozen eggs will cost about $2.58, so you could get about 34 eggs.  

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