By Christina Brown, student at University of Queensland
According to an Insider report, Philadelphia’s average unemployment rate of 12.2 percent in 2021 was more than four points higher than the national average, compared to a difference of less than two points in 2019. In March and April of 2021, Philadelphia lost about 100,000 jobs when governments ordered retailers and eateries to close. By the end of the year, Philadelphia had recovered nearly half of those jobs, leaving it with 50,000 fewer employees than it had started with. Almost 25,000 jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality sector alone. From 5.9 percent in February 2020 to 18.2 percent in June 2021, the city’s jobless rate more than tripled.
Unfortunately, the fact that the minimum wage is so low doesn’t help the unemployment rate, it just adds to the level of need the people in Philadelphia have.
Philadelphia’s minimum wage was $7.25 per hour on January 1, 2020, the same as it had been since 2009. The federal minimum wage is set by the state, and the city has no jurisdiction to adjust it. After responding to a non-binding ballot question in May 2019, Philadelphia voters voiced overwhelming support for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The municipal administration has increased the minimum wage for its own employees as well as city contractors and subcontractors to $13.25, with intentions to progressively boost it to $15 by mid-2022.This is definitely a solution for the 44,000 people who survive on minimum wage in Philadelphia but more needs to be done, perhaps jobs that require skilled people could train prospective employees so more people have the chance to earn a higher salary. Another solution could be funding more scholarships to top universities so that people who come from a working class background could be given the chance to change their life around and earn more than others in that class breaking the ancestral cycle.
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