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Not a monolithic partisan issue

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* As I told subscribers earlier this week, a large number of Downstate Democrats, particularly in the House, are against raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Lee Newspapers has more

“I don’t see that there’s a lot of support in my area for that currently,” [ Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion] said after the speech. […]

“I live on a border community. Workers on my side of the river are already making substantially more than those in Iowa,” said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. “I would much rather see this be dealt with on a national level so that there aren’t differences between two states.”

* And while the vast majority of Republicans are against the idea, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka favors it

“I think it’s the year for it because it hasn’t been raised for a while. People realize a family can’t live on that,” Topinka said. “You’re going to have better employees if you do this.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Hey There - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    JBT is Comptroller for life! There is no downside to her position under the circumstances and she will probably be the highest vote-getter of all of the statewide candidates (even more than Durbin after he spends his war chest against his opponent).

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    Bradley and Jacobs should try living on the minimum wage for a month.

    JBT is a winner.

  3. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    In reality, the minimum wage should be well more than $10 an hour to provide a real “living” wage.

    The flip side to that coin, of course, is that increasing wages increasing operating expenses for businesses.

    In a state that is already projected 40th-50th-bad for job growth in 2014, and suffers from one of the worst long-term unemployment rates in America, increasing the minimum wage may not be the best move to facilitate job growth right now.

  4. - Anon - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    It’s $13 an hour in Canada, and their economy is strong.

  5. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    There’s JBT making me proud I voted for her for governor once again.

    Most politicians are so dumb about the minimum wage. Just because their donors oppose it, they’re scared to come out in favor of it. Meanwhile, minimum wage increases are insanely popular with actual voters of all political persuasions and partisan affiliations.

    A restaurant owner in Marion paying minimum wage is not going to move his McDonald’s to Paducah to avoid paying a higher rate. If John Bradley doesn’t see support for a minimum wage increase in his area he is covering his eyes to purposely avoid seeing it.

  6. - Aluminum Winder - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Bradley and Jacobs should poll the issue in their districts. It’s popular, guys.

  7. - Not Rich - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Work with business to entice them to pay a living wage. Just dropping an increase on every business whether it makes sense for them or not is moronic..

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    JBT is leaving very little room on Simon’s left flank. What’s next? Is she gonna sing “Solidarity Forever” at Mother Jones’ gravesite?

    Just askin…

  9. - A guy... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Sticky wicket, this minimum wage issue. Obama may have come to the rescue with a proposal to go to 10.10 nationally. No doubt the locals here would want to knock it up a buck afterwards, but it’s temporary asylum for them anyway. No one should be attempting to raise a family on minimum wage. I get that the economy has been bad. Maybe it’s time (though I hate this and can’t believe I’m typing it) to have a tiered minimum. One for students and retired seniors just looking to make a few extra bucks that doesn’t throw their Soc Sec out of whack, and another minimum that accounts for everyone who isn’t a student, minor or senior getting out of the house. Complicated as hell I’m sure, but it might save a lot more jobs and not overburden small businesses or even large businesses that hire young people to give them valuable experience in addition to some spending money. Just a thought.

  10. - A guy... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    Notwithstanding, I love Judy too. Not because of her policy decisions, though we agree 60% of the time. I love her cause she’s lovable.

  11. - ronmexico - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Bradley and Jacobs are wrong. They have strong support in their districts. Minimum wage polls well across the board with democrats, independents and republicans.

    I don’t know if I see an upside to passing the bill now. Democrats can blame the big, bad GOP during the campaign, continue the attacks on Rauner if he is the candidate in the fall. Little downside to not passing the bill, the unions and everybody pushing for this have nowhere to go with their money or votes when in reality they know that Madigan is the reason this bill isn’t going anywhere.

  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    –Is she gonna sing “Solidarity Forever” at Mother Jones’ gravesite?–

    I’d prefer “This Land is Your Land.” But if it’s going to happen, let me know, I’d like to see it.

    Everybody who’s ever packed a lunch to go to work should take a trip to Mt. Olive to pay their respects to Mary and the boys from Virden.

    Like mama said, “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

  13. - Montrose - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Let’s look at the poverty rate in each of the counties in Bradley’s district per the the just released Illinois Poverty Report - :

    Hamilton - 14.7%
    Williamson - 15.2%
    Franklin - 17.1%

    So, about 1 in 6 of his constituents are living at or below the poverty line. I think a survey of his constituents would reveal a much higher level of support than he “sees.”

  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Sheila Simon is on a an island…

    The island is slowly being overtaken by waves, and the hill Sheila is standing on… is made from quicksand.

  15. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Raising the minimum wage increases consumer spending while decreasing government dependance. This benefits everyone, business and taxpayer alike.

  16. - ReaderRich - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    One of my first bosses, a very sharp small manufacturing plant owner once told me that money is not a motivator. Meaning: a raise will not change the work habits of most employees.

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    @Montrose - I do not disagree with you. But simply to provide another perspective on things, we may also wish to consider the unemployment rate in each of those counties in Bradley’s district - :

    Franklin - 12.7% - worst in the state
    Williamson - 8.7%
    Hamilton - 7.9%

    Many of those living in poverty in Bradley’s district are not living in poverty because they have low-paying jobs.

    They are living in poverty because they have no jobs.

  18. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    Keep in mind, also, that the unemployment rate does not count unemployed people who have grown discouraged and given up looking for work. The “true” number of unemployed in those areas may be even closer to the number of adults living in poverty.

    Either way, even $10 or $11 isn’t enough to provide for a family on, much less a “comfortable” life.

    By the same token, even “a job” or “any income” is better than “no job” or “no income” in the eyes of many right now. Especially if you have loved ones to support.

    We should raise the minimum wage as soon as possible, but not while Illinois ranks 48th in unemployment rate.

  19. - Union Man - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    So you raise the minimum wage to $10.00. That cost by employers will most likely be past on to the consumers. Then I spend less or ask for a raise as well. So where does it stop?

  20. - Bogart - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    If your an adult - who by whatever circumstances can only get a minimum wage job - you must do what generations of low wage workers did throughout the history of the U.S did. Share housing, share grocery expenses, take public transportation, etc. Minimum wage is not supposed to be able to afford someone the ability to raise a family or live on your own for that matter.

  21. - Bogart - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:52 pm:


  22. - Union Man - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    Look, if McDonalds gives workers $10 - $15 per hour as they demand, a Big Mac goes up to $6, the dollar menu goes to $3 and everyone buys less. So small businesses hire less or raise prices or go out of business all together.

  23. - Stones - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    Shelia Simon is starting to look like the Pete Best of the statewide Democratic ticket.

  24. - Union Man - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Instead of raising the minimum wage, businesses need to lower their profit margins.

  25. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    @Union Man:

    Are you in a union? Just curious. I would think if you are that you might be in favor of paying somebody a living wage.

  26. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Illinois’ $8.25 is “better” than the federal $7.25 an hour.

    $10 an hour is “better” than both.

    None are a “living wage”.

  27. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    Union Man, change your handle. You lose your cred to call yourself a friend of labor when you fret that a decent wage will mean you have to shell out more for a Big Mac.

    The minimum wage hasn’t come close to keeping with inflation. That’s just a fact, Company Man.

  28. - Bemused - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    There was an interesting AP article in the SJR a day or two back titled “Continental divide” about the widening wealth gap in the U.S. Pretty much says since about 1980 the rich are doing quite well and most everyone else has been losing ground. According to the article some economists believe a wealth gap that is to wide is “unhealthy”. A bump in the minimum wage is most likely past due.
    Isn’t 1980 about the time we got voodoo, excuse me, trickle down economics.

  29. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    No risk position for JBT as it is an issue that she is in no position to influence with an actual vote.

  30. - Bogart - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    “Living Wage” - what’s that? And why should 40 hours of unskilled labor afford you “that”?

  31. - Tsar - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Have to wonder what the argument against raising the minimum wage is when raising the wage means that the government pays out less in welfare/food stamps? Isn’t a low minimum wage a form of corporate welfare?6

  32. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    Australia does fine on $16/hour.

  33. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Illinois currently has the 4th-highest minimum wage in America.

    Moreover, Illinois’ minimum wage has increased many times since 1950, including 4 increases since 2000 alone -

    Where has this gotten us? What sort of progress has this generated in the fight against poverty?

    According to today’s news, bupkiss: Illinois Poverty Rate Unchanged for 50 years -

    Reducing poverty and raising living standards has more to do with early-stage childhood development, education, health care, family support, equal access, and so on, than it does with simply raising the bare minimum society pays people for doing jobs no one else wants to.

  34. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    If this is a pressing social justice issue favored by Illinois voters, then let’s be fair about it instead of forcing Illinois businesses to shoulder the entire burden and take the risk of passing it on to consumers. That’s an additional $1.75/hour for someone earning the current $8.25 minimum or a 21% raise. For a thousand hour a year employee, that’s an additional $1750.00 in labor expense. Let’s set up a verification system where the employer reports each of its low wage annual worker’s hours and rate and have the state send them a check for the differential from the new minimum wage. Then all the businesses and individuals in Illinois can share in the expense with higher taxes. We’re talking about amending the state constitution to go to a going to graduated rate, which appears to be a good platform to accommodate this sort of social engineering. And no lowering of current hourly wages to take advantage of this arrangement you evil small business owners.

  35. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    It’s not a good idea to raise the minimum wage right now; it would just hurt smaller businesses. The large businesses could make the finances work for long enough to further drive the small guys out. If minimum wage is good for the economy why don’t we have the 3rd highest employment in the US since we have the 3rd highest minimum wage?

    Minimum wage jobs aren’t meant to support a family. If we have too many families trying to get by on minimum wage than we need better job training programs and to cover daycare expense. Raising minimum wage isn’t going to solve poverty one lick.

    Australia has a little more flexibly on wage rates; it’s surrounded by ocean while Illinois is surrounded by states that have a lower minimum wage.

    Has JBT ever had to meet payroll or has she mainly been paid by taxpayers?

  36. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    @Wordslinger - with much respect, the numbers in that link were cherry-picked by the authors. They likely selected 1967 as the year to measure against because it gave them the numbers they wanted for that story.

    Conversely, we can just as easily compare against the minimum wage since 1950 or any other year to get something higher or lower.

    According to the Department of Labor’s Inflation calculator, a minimum wage of $0.75 per hour in 1950 equates to $7.25 an hour in 2013.

    By that measure, Illinois’ minimum wage of $8.25 an hour is actually outpacing inflation.

  37. - OneMan - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    == JBT is leaving very little room on Simon’s left flank. What’s next? Is she gonna sing “Solidarity Forever” at Mother Jones’ gravesite? ==

    Nope, she is learning Banjo…

  38. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    I plead ambivalence. On one hand, I don’t know what affect, if any, raising the minimum wage would have on the economy as a whole. But, on the other hand, youth unemployment is currently very high statewide and especially with minorities in urban areas. Will raising the minimum wage reduce youth unemployment? Of course not. Would more young people be offered part time jobs if the minumum wage were lower? I don’t know with any certainty but that would seem to be more likely than not. This sort of analysis doesn’t appeal to populist instincts but social scientists would probably rather see young people occupying their time in positive pursuits rather than with the well known alternatives. Were there a mathematical (linear or non-linear) equation that maximized wages while minimizing unemployment this would be a simple matter. Perhaps it needs a bit more study.

  39. - Lobo Y Olla - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    “you must do what generations of low wage workers did throughout the history of the U.S did. Share housing, share grocery expenses, take public transportation, etc.”

    Can’t we just raise taxes on the top 10% of people in illinois? We can use this same argument for the BVC’s of Illinis.

  40. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    I support raising the minimum wage, as do the majority of Illinoisans and Americans. I don’t see it as a cure-all for our economic woes but as a way to help struggling wage earners.

    Good looking out for the workers, JBT.

  41. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    By the way, who arbitrarily selected $10? Why not $11? $12? $15?

    If we adjust for inflation since 1968, then the minimum wage should be $10.61.

    If we adjust since 1955, it should be $6.52.

    If we adjust since 2000, it should be $6.97.

    If we are serious about providing a living wage, should it not be upwards of $20?

  42. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    =“You’re going to have better employees if you do this.”=

    Sorry, but that’s not necessarily true.

    Take an office for example. There are quite a few highly-educated and highly-trained resources out there who have been unemployed for quite some time and would be more than happy to take many of the minimum wage office jobs that are out there.

    The “HR folks”–especially in smaller organizations, however, will not hire them because they’re “over-qualified.”

    If elected officials are going to talk about employment in general–which is a conversation that needs to be had, it’d be a good idea to do some research regarding what’s really happening in the job market today. Just a thought.

  43. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    And here’s another one to consider. If you’re “over-qualified,” there’s no way to downplay your resume because of how easy it is to run a background check on someone. (You can’t run away from the companies you’ve worked for and the positions you’ve held.)

    On the other hand, visa workers come here with pretty much a “clean slate”–from all perspectives. They can pretty much be whoever they want you to believe they are.


  44. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 5:20 pm:

    Ah, that ‘ol JBT–now there’s a class lady, and shock of shockers, a REPUBlican, with some real horse sense…and in all due respect to those Dem. naysayers in the minority Downstate in terms of the over 3/4ths of Illinoisans who Polling shows WANT at least SOME increase in the Wage, most of whom in that aberrational, small group number-wise Pat Quinn can win re-election without ANYway, just like he did in 2010 as “4 County Quinn”…!

  45. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 6:05 pm:

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say Just The Way It Is One, but did want to make clear that my comments had nothing to do with whether the minimum wage should be increased or not.

    My point was that based on hiring practices, an increase will not necessarily result in “better employees” and that the statements regarding “no one wants those jobs” or “no one has the skills for those jobs” to justify an influx of low-skilled or high-tech workers are not always true.

    It’s the companies hiring practices (and whatever their, or their companies’ “agendas” are) that make the determinations. And while I’m not saying that that isn’t the way it ought to be, it’s a shame that so few companies seem to be able to, or are willing to, look at training as either a solution or qualification.

    “Over-qualified” seems to be an even bigger deal now than it has ever been in the past. Some believe there are all sorts of reasons for it, including general lack of confidence within our overall workforce today.

    Without “mincing” words, it’s how the “not so talented” manage to stay on top…and employed. And some believe it’s just going to get worse as the level of the quality of services provided decreases.

  46. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 6:10 pm:

    And let’s face it: that’s exactly the way wages–and lifestyles (including our expectations pertaining to decent levels of quality in both the products and services we use) are driven down.

    It’s a form of “sharing,” I suppose.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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