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$15 Minimum Wage

City of Chicago Minimum Wage Increase

Approximately 400,000 Chicagoans earn the minimum wage. The average minimum wage earner in Illinois must work over 80 hours a week just to purchase the basic necessities. - (National Low Income Housing  Coalition 2012)

A study released by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute in 2018 showed that downtown Chicago is the economic engine for the entire state of Illinois creating some 80,000 new jobs in recent years despite incremental increases to the city’s minimum wage. 

The historically low unemployment rate has driven many large employers to voluntarily raise their wages to a minimum of $15 an hour. Among the companies increasing their wages to $15 are Amazon, WalMart, The Gap, and Target. Studies further show that workers have a tendency to move to communities offering higher wages. An increase in Chicago’s minimum wage would serve the dual purpose of helping to solve the income inequality problem and potentially attract both workers in search of higher wages, and employers seeking larger pools of workers. 

The City of Chicago minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $13 an hour on July 1, 2019. The city law does not provide for any further increases other than the minor cost of living increases. I propose an extension of the city’s minimum wage law with 50 cents increases every six months until the wage reaches $15 an hour. That will take the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour no later than July 2021 and possibly earlier when the cola is factored in. 

I also propose that once the minimum wage reaches $15 an hour, the Office of Labor Standards at the City of Chicago conduct an annual review of the city’s minimum wage to monitor economic conditions and living standards and to propose further increases to the minimum wage as warranted. 

I propose an extension of the city’s minimum wage law with 50 cents increases every six months until the wage reaches $15 an hour.