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Illinois businesses prepare for another minimum wage increase

(The Center Square) – With the new year, Illinois will see another minimum wage hike on Jan. 1.

The state’s minimum wage goes up to $11 for hourly workers, $6.60 for those who also earn tips, and youth workers get a bump up to $8.50.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law in 2019 that provides a path to a $15 minimum wage by 2025. Administration officials have said the extra money will pump up the economy after workers go out and spend their increased wages.

“We want people who are working at the lowest wages in our economy, the poorest working people in Illinois, we think they deserve a raise,” Pritzker said.

Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said with the ongoing pandemic, the hike is putting extra strain on already struggling businesses.

“You are artificially increasing their costs at a time when they are having a hard time making rent payments, or property tax payments, or other payments that are due,” Karr said.

Earlier in the pandemic, Karr said his organization contacted the governor about the hikes.

“We did not suggest a repeal, we suggested a postponement,” Karr said. “Everyone needs to remember, the wage has increased 33% in 365 days.”

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce agreed, and is requesting the wage increase be delayed so Illinois-based businesses “already strapped with decreased revenues and new expenses related to COVID-19” are not further negatively impacted by a minimum wage increase.

“In the Quad Cities, businesses have already been hit hard by COVID-19 mitigations. Asking our Illinois small businesses to take on a third minimum wage increase in a year, especially as they continue to navigate an economy dampened by COVID-19, forces them into an unfeasible no-win situation,” Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler said.

A study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute at the University of Illinois indicated that more than 1.4 million adult hourly workers in Illinois make less than $15 an hour.

In Illinois’ neighboring states, the minimum wage is lower. In Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, the minimum wage is $7.25. The wage goes up to $10.30 in Missouri on Jan. 1.

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