|The Wendy's and Popeye's fast food franchises located across the street pay better than this Indiana-based business|
THE MEASURE THE City Council approved several years ago to boost the state-mandated minimum wage that must be paid to people working for Chicago-based companies took another rise on Sunday.
The first of July resulted in the Chicago minimum wage rising to $12 per hour – much higher than the $8.25 minimum wage called for by any company based elsewhere in Illinois.
Including those suburban places right up against the city limits. Or those places in Indiana that are right up against the East Side and Hegewisch neighborhoods of Chicago. Because the Indiana minimum wage remains the same as the federal level of $7.25 per hour.
Could it be that our very own businesses will be able to claim better-qualified workers because they’ll attract workers with their higher wage? And yes, I know that the Chicago minimum wage law is geared toward adult workers who are stuck in lower-paying jobs – teens can still be paid less.
BUT I COULDN’T help but notice the study released Monday by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal. The University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign-based academics say the increased salaries haven’t caused the harm that some feared. The idea that having to pay workers more would cost businesses financially.
“As minimum wages in Chicago have increased, private sector business growth has kept pace – and in some cases exceeded – that of suburbs where the minimum wage didn’t change,” the study says, also pointing out that unemployment in the city proper has dropped slightly more than in the suburbs.
It will be intriguing to see how this trend continues, since the same City Council ordinance continues to take effect on July 1, 2019 – when the minimum wage rises to $13 per hour. As for those people who argue higher minimum wages will result in more menial jobs being done by machines, I’d argue those employers will want to mechanize their labor forces even if the minimum wage was reduced.
Political people, meanwhile, continue to argue for and against the idea of a $15 per hour minimum wage as a standard across the nation. An idea that will cause much arguing amongst our politicos – while they make me wonder how much better things are now, since I still recall my own teenaged days of a $3.35 per hour minimum wage.