HARRISBURG, July 3, 2008 — State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (DAllegheny) is reminding workers and employers that the final step in Pennsylvania’s phased-in minimum wage took effect July 1.

The minimum wage rose to $7.15 for virtually all Pennsylvania workers after two years of gradual increases intended to give small business a chance to adjust.

“The final effort of our phased-in minimum wage is a welcome step,” Fontana said. “Despite comments from our detractors, the plan has been a success.”

Still, Pennsylvania workers who have benefited from the minimum wage boost are already seeing their buying power eroded by rising gasoline and food costs, Fontana noted.

Fontana is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 682, which would tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index, as 10 other states have done.

“Consistent adjustments tied to an index would be more effective than sporadic increases,” Fontana said.

Until July 1, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees were permitted to pay $6.65 per hour. With the increase, all employees over 20 years of age must make $7.15 an hour. The lawallows employers to pay workers under 20 years old a “training wage” for 60 calendar days of employment. The training wage is equivalent to the federal minimum wage, which is $5.85 per hour today and rises to $6.55 on July 24.

The training wage will expire in 2009, as the federal minimum wage rises to $7.25 per hour for all workers.

Under Pennsylvania’s minimum wage law, the state Department of Labor and Industry must report annually on the effect of minimum wage increases on the state’s economy and jobs.

This year’s report, released in January, showed overall job growth in Pennsylvania, with slight increases in the leisure and hospitality industries, and a slight decline in retail jobs.

For more information on the minimum wage, its effect on jobs and to report employer non-compliance, visit www.senatorfontana.com.

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