What the lack of a minimum wage increase means for Centre County families

Local News

The New Year meant an increase in the minimum wage for four neighboring states, but not for workers here in Pennsylvania.

Minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25. That’s lower than any of our neighboring states. 
County officials and the United Way say, since minimum wage is not going up, we have to come up with other options for people to afford the costs of rent, utilities, gas, and children.

Faith Ryan is the Director of Adult Services for Centre County.  She helps people on a tight budget that are looking to qualify for financial help.  She says when you’re living pay check to paycheck, it can be very challenging to pay for life’s surprises.

“We have a lot of families come in where someone may have gotten into a car accident or had a major surgery and now they’re behind on their rent,” Faith Ryan, Director of Adult Services for Centre County Government, said.
 
Tammy Gentzel, the Executive Director of the Centre County United Way says she’s not advocating for a minimum wage increase, but for other ways to meet the financial needs of people that just aren’t making enough on minimum wage.
 
She says people don’t always qualify for government subsidies.  Gentzel and Ryan both say salaries aren’t keeping up with inflation in the county.
 
“There isn’t always a ladder to climb in each industry, so whereas you might start making $10 an hour, you’re stuck making $10 an hour for quite a while, while you’re rent and your groceries and your gas and everything’s increasing,” Ryan, said.
 
Ryan says families in Centre County not making enough to pay the bills, should ask the Centre County adult services department about the help available.

“We’ll try to help them explore, ya’ know are you receiving food stamps,?”  Ryan said.  “Are you going to a local food bank?  Are you on a budgeting program with your utility company?  Housing of course is the trickiest one because it is so expensive and we will try to explore some options for subsidized housing.”
 
Gentzel says something has to be done, whether it’s figuring out ways to reduce costs for people on minimum wage or something else but the current situation is not sustainable.
 

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