Suburban Cook County’s minimum wage is set to increase to $13 an hour under legislation approved Wednesday by the board of commissioners.
The hourly minimum wage will gradually increase from $8.25 to $13 by 2020. The city of Chicago has already approved an increase in the minimum wage, which will grow to $13 by 2019.
The People’s Lobby was among the groups pushing for a Cook County minimum wage hike.
“Today’s vote is a tremendous victory for working people,” said Pascal Brixel with The People’s Lobby. “It will give 200,000 people a desperately needed raise, and, when fully implemented, it will put almost $10,000 more dollars a year in the pockets of full-time, minimum wage workers.
“This is a great start,” Brixel continued, “but workers need and deserve more. Let’s celebrate today, and tomorrow we will continue the fight against poverty wages and income inequality.”
Opponents of the Cook County minimum wage increase include the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. The association’s President and CEO Greg Baise issued a statement after the vote:
The IMA is strongly opposed to yet another job-destroying move by government that they claim is for workers but will result in lost jobs. Illinois has lost more than 304,900 middle class manufacturing jobs over the last 16 years due to poor policy that drives businesses out of our state–and a full 40 percent of those losses have occurred in the greater Chicago area.
The economy of Cook County will see the effect of a minimum wage increase in the form of employers choosing to operate outside of your borders, or in another state. Cook County Board member John Daley calls this increase ‘moral and right’ – but our organization can’t help but look at the decision under a more realistic economic lens and ask how moral it is to drive jobs out of the county, or how right it is to further squeeze small employers’ narrow margins?
This is one more policy decision, in addition to a massive property tax hike, that piles on another stifling layer of government regulation to industry. Illinois’ economy is in real trouble and government refuses to fight the disease rather than treat the symptom. The numbers don’t lie: the economies of Cook County, the city of Chicago and our state can simply not afford these policies.