Making a Difference in the Pennsylvania Economy

Ethan Friedman

May 2018

Throughout the past couple months, I have been researching and revolving the minimum wage issue in Pennsylvania. I researched issues regarding minimum wage and living situations in Pennsylvania. I conducted a survey among my classmates and other kids my age that live in and around Philadelphia that focused on personal experiences with minimum wage. Finally, I wrote a well thought out letter to Gov. Tom Wolf providing supporting evidence on why the minimum wage in Pennsylvania must be raised to $10 if not double.

The 2017 minimum wage by state in the United States. Pennsylvania is tied with many other states for the lowest minimum wage.

According to the Huffington Post, you would need to make just under $60,000 to support a family in Philadelphia and $15,000 certainly isn’t enough. America ranks 11th in the world for the highest minimum wage according to OECD. Australia's minimum wage is over $15 an hour and 80% of the country makes over 5% more than the minimum wage.

Pennsylvania is 1 of 3 states who host one of the 10 largest cities in America who have the minimum possible wage. When growing up and going to inter-city schools, I notice how some kids can’t go out with their friends, because they don’t have the money to. The government is limiting the amount of money people can make, and it is causing children to be unhappy with their lives. Everybody deserves to spend time with their friends, to go get pizza or see a movie.

When working on issues regarding income, it is important to take other factors into account, such as location, opportunity, and sources of income. When I conducted a survey with students in Philadelphia, I found out that 1 in every 9 students only lives with 1 adult figure. Forms response chart. Question title:  How many adult figures live with you?. Number of responses: 18 responses.

Source: Google Forms: Original Research Survey

When you only have one source of income which is that adult’s job, it is very difficult to support a family. The population of Pennsylvania is approximately 12.81 million people according to the United States Census Bureau.  That means that about 1.4 million families in Pennsylvania are ran by a single parent. There is clearly a problem in the system if 11% of families can’t afford to live.

To combat this issue, I decided to write a letter directly to the office of Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania. I introduced the issue and my personal experience with people who are affected by the issues, and I proposed the idea to double the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. I hope that he understands what families have to go through to support themselves.

In order to make a difference, more people need to stand up for what they believe in. If the governor receives 200 letters that speak from the heart on increasing the minimum wage, he is going to notice that there is a major issue. Throughout my work over the past couple months, I have built up evidence and reason to make a difference. He will not believe somebody who claims that we need change if they can’t provide a reason to make change.

Throughout this process, I have learned about issues in my own community and peers that I had not understood before. I believe that change is unavoidable. It is impossible to survive on $15,000 a year whether you’re alone or living with multiple kids. I am glad that there are politicians like Bernie Sanders who have spoken publicly about raising minimum wage as a country.

The letter that I mailed to Tom Wolf.

Annotated Bibliography