Chicago Approves Minimum Wage Hike

The Chicago City Council resoundingly agreed, by a vote of 44-5, to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 and hour by mid 2019. it’s estimated that the wage increase would affect 410,000 workers, or nearly one-third of all Chicagoans.

Currently, Chicago’s minimum wage is $8.25. Under the proposal, the minimum wage would increase to $10 next July and rise incrementally each summer until 2019. But according to the bill, the increase is long overdue. "...rising inflation has outpaced the growth in the minimum wage, leaving the true value of lllinois' current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour 32 percent below the 1968 level of $10.71 per hour (in 2013 dollars)."

With this bill, Chicago joins the current trend of a metropolitan area having a separate minimum wage from the rest of its state. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order on Tuesday to raise the minimum hourly wage by more than a dollar to $13.13. The mayor said his plans are to increase the minimum hourly rate to $15.22 by 2019. Currently, the New York state minimum wage is $8 an hour.

In San Francisco, voters approved a rise to a $15 minimum wage in 2018. The state legislature, however, is just now proposing a hike in the state minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2016 and to $13 in 2017. And on On June 2, 2014, the City Council of Seattle, WA passed a local ordinance to increase the minimum wage of the city to $15 an hour by 2017, giving it the highest minimum wage in the United States.

Some Chicago aldermen like Tom Tunney (44th) argued Wednesday in the special City Council meeting that the wage increase would have adverse consequences by driving away businesses to other parts of the state or force companies to pass those bottom-line increases to the consumer.

There’s also talk that Chicago’s minimum wage hike has more to do with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s upcoming reelection than with concern for a living wage for Chicago’s workers. Not surprisingly, mayoral challengers 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia are are critical that the Mayor Emanuel’s proposal doesn’t go far enough, saying they would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But it has had the effect of sending state legislature scrambling for a state-wide referendum that would raise the state's minimum wage to $9 an hour July 1. The rate would increase by 50 cents an hour each year until 2019, when the wage would reach $11 an hour.

Senior care agencies already pay more than minimum wage and the average caregiver hourly wage is 38% above national minimum wage, but there’s no doubt that new minimum wage proposals would affect caregiver wages. The question is, will costs be passed on to seniors and their families? Will higher wages in cities drive senior care company growth in suburban and rural areas? There’s no doubt that the cost of living is higher in major metropolitan areas, but will the cost of doing business become too high? I look forward to reading your comments.

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