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LIFT THE MIMINUM WAGE—Hundreds of protesters chant and carrying signs protesting against UPMC wages. Photos by J.L. Martello/File)

In the past several years, policy makers and unions—most notably the Service Employees International Union—have pushed for a raise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. That effort has been realized in large part for employees in Pittsburgh’s healthcare industry—but has it made a difference for the affected workers?

The short answer is, yes.

On Dec. 5, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work released preliminary findings of the Pittsburgh Wage Study, which attempts to map the benefits of the recent wage increase for healthcare workers at a single Pittsburgh hospital.

Though lead author Jeffrey Shook said the report found workers still facing hardships, even after the initial wage increase, he was gratified to see those hardships decreased across all measures, some significantly. Among them:

•Fewer workers (79 percent vs. 87 percent pre-increase) reported living paycheck-to-paycheck;

•Fewer workers (38 percent vs. 53 percent) reported not being able to pay utilities on time;

•Fewer workers (23 percent vs. 36 percent) reported not being able to pay the rent or mortgage on time;

•Fewer workers (26 percent vs. 33 percent) reported not being able to afford car repairs, gas or insurance;

•Fewer workers (9 percent vs. 13 percent) reported not having enough food to eat, and;

•Fewer workers (35 percentvs. 40 percent) reported at least sometimes cutting a meal.

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