The Illinois state senate is preparing to vote on legislation that would boost the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, the first increase since an increase to $8.25, the current rate, was phased in over three years starting in 2006. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the increase would raise wages for more than a million workers, particularly women and minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage-earners.
Business leaders, as is typical, oppose the increase, which they say will fall disproportionately on small businesses and cost the state jobs, the Decatur Herald-Review reports:
Mike Palmer, marketing and brand manager for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, said increases in the minimum wage fall disproportionately on small-business owners, who he said are less able to absorb increases in their labor costs.
Despite claims that the increase would lead to job losses, studies of increases in both federal and state minimum wage increases haven’t shown that to be true. In fact, when states across the country boosted their minimum wages at the beginning of 2012, EPI estimated that the additional money in the economy would actually create 3,000 jobs.
Increasing the minimum wage to $10 would make Illinois one of the few states to make today’s minimum wage as strong as it when it was first implemented. While the current federal minimum is $7.25 an hour, it would take an hourly wage of $9.92 to match the minimum wage’s buying power in 1968.