As the final day of the regularly scheduled spring legislative came to a close, Illinois Democrat leaders passed a minimum wage increase that critics worry would stifle job-growth, and hurt small businesses struggling to stay afloat in a difficult economy.
Illinois’ current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, a full dollar above the federal level and higher than minimum wage rates paid in all of its neighboring states. Under Senate Bill 81, it would increase incrementally to $15 hours by 2022, leading to at least an 82% increase in labor costs for Illinois employers.
Opponents contend that business owners, especially small businesses, cannot simply absorb the higher cost of doing business and will be forced to cut their work force, go out of business, or go out of state. Additionally, they argue that high minimum wages are killing opportunity in cities. For example, in the City of Chicago, which has a starting wage of $10.50, unemployment among residents with limited skills continues at historic levels.
Senate Bill 81 will be sent next to the Governor for consideration.