Minimum-wage plan gets mixed reviews in Pa.

Posted: February 20, 2013

ALTHOUGH SOME SEE President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour as a way to help people make ends meet, others see it as a way for people to lose jobs.

Anthony Liuzzo, professor of business and economics at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said many people who now make the minimum wage may find themselves unemployed if the wage is increased.

"I think it will hurt the exact people it was intended to help," he said. "An employer will look hard at whether they can afford it. People who make the minimum wage will simply be terminated rather than get the higher salaries, especially young people."

Harold Karchner, president of Karchner Logistics in Hazleton, said that someone will have to pay for the increase.

"If a restaurant has 20 people who work part time, that's a 30 percent raise in wages, plus Social Security and the other taxes," Karchner said. "And about 60 cents of that [$1.75] raise goes to the government."

Monsignor Joseph Kelly, of Catholic Social Services in Scranton, said he is "100 percent in favor" of Obama's proposal because of high poverty rates in the area.

Obama's latest plan would raise the hourly minimum to $9 by 2015 and increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has not risen for more than two decades.

The U.S. had about 80 million hourly workers in 2011 and 5.2 percent were paid minimum wage, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 5.7 percent of Pennsylvania's 3.4 million workers who are paid by the hour get minimum wage - or about 193,800 workers.

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