Our View: Raise Illinois’ minimum wage
Herald-News Editorial September 5, 2013 9:44PM
Updated: October 7, 2013 1:34PM
There’s almost no chance that Gov. Pat Quinn will persuade the Legislature to raise the minimum wage in Illinois any time soon.
And there’s almost no chance that Quinn believes it will happen, despite proposing raising it from $8.25 to $10 per hour.
While Illinois has the highest minimum wage among Midwest states (and a buck an hour above the federal minimum), it’s still a far-less-than-minimum wage if you’re trying to live on it. Based on a 40-hour work week, it comes to about $17,000 a year.
On the other hand, if the minimum wage actually reflected inflation, it would be about $18 an hour. That makes every $8.25-an-hour worker an employer’s best bargain.
Those that pay the minimum wage sure don’t charge what they did for their products and services 30 years ago. Get a 2013 worker for 1985 pay.
Those who oppose increasing the wage say its higher cost to employers would result in fewer jobs and make Illinois even more business-unfriendly than it is now.
Supporters such as Quinn say it’s unfairly low and raising it would give people more spending power and boost the economy.
We think the state’s minimum wage should increase (it last happened in 2010), but a huge jump to $10 per hour would be too shocking to a state economy that’s still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. We favor a gradual increase, possibly 25 cents an hour each year over the next three years.
The minimum-wage law wasn’t designed to be a one-time gift to mollify poor people but as an ever-growing bridge into the middle class. That hasn’t worked mostly because the wage hasn’t changed as fast as the economy around it.
Something’s wrong when even McDonald’s official “how-to-live-better” message to its employees is “get a second job.”
The minimum wage has become an assurance of permanent poverty. Fairness dictates that it be higher.