Frequently asked questions:
What is Raise Illinois?
Raise Illinois is a major legislative and grassroots campaign to increase Illinois’ minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $10.65 an hour. Raise Illinois is led by a coalition made up of community, business, faith and labor organizations along with minimum wage workers and supporters that are committed to fighting for a raise in the minimum wage in Illinois.
What is the current minimum wage in Illinois?
The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25, which translates to about $16,500 a year for a full-time, year round worker.
Why should we increase the minimum wage?
With the worst recession in a generation still being felt across the nation, state and federal leaders are focused on getting their economies moving again while helping working families make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage is a key strategy for doing both and should be part of an economic recovery agenda. Low-income families spend all of their additional income on basic necessities in their local communities. A raise in the minimum wage will increase consumer spending and create a higher demand for goods. This in turn will increase business profits, create jobs and assist in the overall economic recovery. A robust minimum wage is a key building block of sustainable economic recovery.
What is Raise Illinois’ proposal to increase the minimum wage?
In January 2011, Senate Bill 1565 was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. This legislation will gradually increase the minimum wage over four years, until 2014, when the wage will hit $10.65 and thereafter go up with the cost of living each year. The bill number was recently changed to Senate Bill 68.
How does the current value of the minimum wage compare with it’s past value?
The value of the minimum wage has fallen sharply over the past forty years. In 1968, for example, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 per hour, which translates to approximately $10.27 in 2011 dollars.
Does raising the minimum wage cause job loss?
No. The best economic research, and real world experiences with minimum wage increases, confirms that raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss. The decade following the federal minimum wage increase in 1996-1997 ushered in one of the strongest periods of job growth in decades. Analyses of states with minimum wages higher than the federal floor between 1998 and 2003 showed that their job growth was actually stronger overall than in states that kept the lower federal level.
The most sophisticated minimum wage study to date, published in November 2010 by economists at the University of Massachusetts, University of North Carolina, and University of California, compared employment data among every pair of neighboring U.S. counties that straddle a state border and had differing minimum wage levels at any time between 1990 and 2006, and found that minimum wage increases did not cost jobs. A companion study published in April 2011 found that these results hold true even during periods of recession and high unemployment.
As five Nobel Laureates and six past presidents of the American Economic Association stated in joining hundreds of other economists in calling for raising the minimum wage, a higher minimum wage “can significantly improve the lives of low-income workers and their families, without the adverse effects that critics have claimed.” For more research on the effect of the minimum wage on employment, click here.
Are low-wage workers who are affected by the minimum wage mostly teens?
Contrary to stereotypes, low-wage workers whose pay scales are affected by the minimum wage are overwhelmingly adults, many supporting families. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three quarters of minimum wage earners are 20 or older. The percentage is even higher for low-wage workers earning $9.00 or $10.00 per hour, whose pay scales would rise if the minimum wage were restored to its historical level. In fact, the median worker age is close to 40 for home health care workers, one of the nation’s top-growth low-wage occupations. Especially after the Great Recession, more and more Americans are spending their careers in low-wage jobs where the minimum wage helps set pay scales.
Will employers leave Illinois if we raise the minimum wage?
No. Most minimum wage employers are service sector businesses that are tied to a state because that is where their customers are – businesses like fast food, retail stores, and home health care services, for example. Michael Thompson, Economic Research Analyst from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, studied job growth in Illinois and Indiana and found that minimum wage increases in Illinois did not lead to a loss of jobs to neighboring states like Indiana that had a lower minimum wage.
Also, a New York Times profile of businesses on either side of the Washington/Idaho border at a time when Washington’s minimum wage was nearly $3 higher than Idaho’s found that businesses in Washington were flourishing, despite predictions that the higher minimum wage would send jobs and businesses fleeing across the state line.
What can I do to help?
In order to get the Illinois Minimum Wage Bill (SB 1565) passed, we must put pressure on our legislators to stand up for working people instead of corporate interests.
Sign A Petition!
If you live in Illinois, please sign one of the petitions below:
Call your legislator!
If you are an Illinois voter, please call your Illinois State Senator and Representative and tell them to vote for SB 68. Legislators getting direct calls from voters about specific issues they care about is a very effective way of holding them accountable and getting them to pay attention to your concerns. Click here to find your Illinois State Senator and Representative and give them a call!
Trips To Springfield!
We also make frequent bus trips to Springfield during the legislative session to speak to elected officials about the importance of raising the minimum wage. If you would like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
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