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Rahm reverses course, Voices backs wage hike

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014

* Mayor Emanuel refused to say earlier this month whether he’d push to raise Chicago’s minimum wage if the state raises its minimum wage. Yesterday, he changed his tune…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that he would push aldermen to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour no matter what Springfield lawmakers do on the issue this year.

Previously, the mayor had declined to say whether the city would move ahead with its own higher minimum wage even if state lawmakers raised the statewide minimum wage to $10 after the November election.

“Illinois should do it, and when Illinois does it, we’re going to take the steps necessary to get us to the $13 here in the city of Chicago, because it’s relevant to making sure work pays and making sure people can afford to live in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said at a news conference about Chicago public high school graduation rates.

* More

“I’m committed … to seeing an increase in the minimum wage so people can afford to live in Chicago. And more importantly than living in Chicago, which is very important to me, is making sure that, if you work, a child is not raised in poverty.”

One day after joining Quinn and Vice-President Joe Biden at a roundtable on the minimum wage issue, Emanuel noted that 400,000 Chicagoans, “mainly mothers,” stand to benefit from a $13-an-hour minimum wage that would help them “meet their obligations” to their children.

* Meanwhile, Voices for Illinois Children has released a report supporting a hike in the minimum wage

Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour would benefit an estimated 1.1 million Illinois workers — over 20 percent of Illinois’ workforce — and nearly one in five Illinois children (about 583,000) who have a parent who would earn higher wages. On average, parents who would benefit from an increase are responsible for a majority of their families’ income. Raising the minimum wage would boost total family income, helping these families who work hard and struggle to get by on low wages the afford basic necessities.

Children in families with enough income to cover basic necessities are healthier, have more success in school, and earn more as adults. In contrast, children whose families struggle economically are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress, more likely to struggle in school, and more likely to have health problems than their peers. By raising the minimum wage, more working families would be able to meet their children’s basic needs, reducing the adverse effects of poverty on child well-being. […]

Workers who would benefit include both those who currently earn between $8.25 and $10.10 an hour (over 700,000 men and women), as well as those who currently earn a wage at or slightly above $10.10 an hour (about 400,000 workers). Many in the latter group would benefit because employers often raise wages in order to maintain a “wage ladder” for different job levels, economists have found. Of workers who would benefit, 56 percent are women, and a majority is at least 30 years old. Over 50 percent of benefiting workers work full-time (at least 35 hours a week), and nearly half have at least some college experience

* Dot points…

    • 86 percent are at least 20 years old, and about 35 percent are at least 40 years old,
    • more than one third are married, and about one in four have children, and
    • almost 90 percent have at least a high school diploma, and 55 percent have at least some college education.

The report also cites studies which purport to show that minimum wage increases aren’t job killers.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    See those polls?
    Start pandering.

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Wonder if they will decide to pursue a gradual increase or an immediate increase?

    As for the data, while there are conflicting studies, Professor Autor’s quote in Voices for Children report is fairly accurate according to studies from reputable sources like the Department of Labor and others. An increase in the minimum wage does NOT generally eliminate existing jobs, but it DOES generally hamper job growth and result in the creation of fewer new jobs.

  3. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    I must give Mayor Emanuel credit. I just finished watching the Jackie Robinson West rally and I am impressed with the Mayor for not trying to put himself front and center. No speeches, no mugging for the cameras with the kids.

    And kudos to the Mayor’s staff for keeping Rev. Jesse Jackson from hogging the kids spotlight, try as he might.

  4. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    Regardless, it is always nice to see Rahm taking a bold stand on issues.

    You are just about 8 months late to the party, Mr Mayor.

  5. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    I’ve read two thirds of minimum wage earners are women, of whom 60% are the primary wage earners in their families.

  6. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    This should make a great case study. Does a higher minimum wage raise the unemployment rate or is a higher minimum wage essentially benign? Stay tuned.

  7. - Wally - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Well, someone take a guess what will happen to your favorite locally owned corner coffee shop. That quaint little cafe you enjoy. That small family owned hardware store that gives you great service.

    Need I continue?

  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    FKA, what do you mean “generally.” Has the minimum wage “generally” hampered job growth over the 76 years it’s been in effect?

  9. - better days - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    rhambo already running re election.
    . Obama democrats, Quinn have failed after 5 years to revive Economy so they try to force businesses to pay more ..good luck !!!!
    Illinois #2 in amount of people leaving state
    and they are the taxpayers leaving , not the money takers
    Governor Rauner .. eh ????

  10. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    ==Well, someone take a guess what will happen to your favorite locally owned corner coffee shop. That quaint little cafe you enjoy. That small family owned hardware store that gives you great service.==

    So we should never raise the minimum wage?

  11. - AlabamaShake - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    **Well, someone take a guess what will happen to your favorite locally owned corner coffee shop. That quaint little cafe you enjoy. That small family owned hardware store that gives you great service.**

    Most of these “locally owned coffee shops”, “quaint little cafes”, and “small family owned hardware stores” went away a long time ago, and not because of anything to do with minimum wage. They went away because of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks and Home Depot and Chilis and McDonalds.

  12. - Shemp - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    $10 in Cook or Dupage is not the same as $10 in Mercer or Massac. There has to be a better way of adjusting than across the board.

  13. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==There has to be a better way of adjusting than across the board.==

    Smart suggestion.

    Trades do it all the time. There are different wage scales depending on the location of the job. It’s not like you’d have to reinvent the wheel.

  14. - Walter Sobchak - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    In other words, don’t ask why the most dynamic economy in the history of the world no longer has the ability create high paying jobs for millions of workers, or ask whether forty years of increasing regulation and punitive taxation killed the economy, or why it’s constitutional for any government to tell a private business what it has to pay a worker…no, keep everyone arguing as to the amount: $10? $13? $33? $333? The statistics describe an enormous human tragedy, one that will not be fixed by a minimum wage.

  15. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    Most of their references regarding minimum wage increases not hurting jobs are from Australia. Also, the CBO’s February report on raising the minimum wage nationwide could cost anywhere from 500,000 - 1 million jobs. The CBO report also indicates that only 19% of minimum wage works are living at or below poverty.

    This isn’t to say that there is not merit in raising the minimum wage, but we should look at it from all angles. We have the 3rd highest minimum wage and the 6th highest unemployment rate(BLS, July 2014), so high minimum wage doesn’t cause job growth.

    This is going to hurt small businesses the most. We should look at a joint bill that decreases other costs for businesses such as workers comp reform and unemployment insurance reductions to help off set the higher cost of labor. I know some people find this hard to believe, but businesses can’t just magically increase their costs without consequences.

  16. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    About 35 of 50 members vote with Mayor Emanuel 98-100% of the time. The remaining 15 vote with MRE an average of 60-80% of the time.

    If Emanuel wants to raise the minimum wage, raise the minimum wage.

  17. - Living in Machiaville - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    ‘bamashake, while there has been a non-stop “franchising” trend for years, there are still tens of thousands of locally owned businesses started and grown. But with a statewide min wage of $10 and $13 in Chicago, there will be a lot less. Econ 101: raise the price of anything and less will be purchased, including labor.

  18. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    Move minimum to $10 or $13. Will the state be adjusting rates to cover salaries for direct service providers in ten’s of thousands of community based programs and residential settings or will that become an unfunded mandate?

  19. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    In the words of the Department of Labor on the minimum wage issue this past February:

    “The researchers find that increasing the minimum wage does not lead to a reduction in the level of employment; however, increasing the minimum wage results in a substantial drop in the rate of job creation. They determine that the decline in job growth is the result of expanding establishments decreasing the number of jobs they create rather than resulting from additional job losses among declining industries.”

  20. - Steve - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    A full time worker at 40 hours a week at $13 an hour, times 52 weeks is: $27,040. That’s right Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn want to make it illegal to work for less than $27,040 a year! You don’t have to be an expert in microeconomics to wonder why Chicago has high unemployment with it going higher. Just a reminder, the minimum wage is higher now than in 2001 but Chicago has less jobs.

  21. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 3:27 pm:


    That’s not exactly living high on the hog, especially in Chicago.

    I’d love for somebody to explain to me when we should raise the minimum wage? Or should we never? We know some don’t want a minimum wage at all (which is asinine by the way) so I get their perspective. I’d like the perspective of those who support the minimum wage but who oppose any increase to it.

  22. - A guy... - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 3:46 pm:

    It obviously has to be raised over time. Perhaps you could do so according to something other than the whims of a meeting yesterday with Biden, Quinn and Rahm. I suggest there are some greater minds who could index it a little less politically.

    And, since the minimum wage could now vary from Federal to state to city, yeah, I think that affects certain economies more than others. How could it not?

  23. - ChrisB - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 4:51 pm:


    I don’t fit into the type of person you’re looking for, but I’d imagine the argument would peg it to unemployment numbers.

    Personally, I think the unemployment rate for minorities, specifically teens, is criminal. They NEED jobs. It’s the single common thread from everything I’ve read about how to solve Chicago’s violence problem. All the other legislation to reduce crime, reduce gun violence, make lives better, etc. won’t do anything if there aren’t stable job opportunities.

    Minimum wage increases would hurt that demographic the most. Get unemployment under control, then talk about raising the minimum wage.

  24. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 5:36 pm:

    –Minimum wage increases would hurt that demographic the most. –

    Not so you’d notice. According to the Pew Center, 78% of those who make the minimum wage are white; only 24% are teenagers.

    For some of the sturm-undt-drang you hear from the self-described “economists” here, you’d think minimum wage workers were the dominating force in the nation’s economy.

    Give them a bump, and the economy goes off the rails again (who knew Jamie Dimon and his ilk made the minimum wage).

    The facts point out how ludicrous that is.

  25. - Steve - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 7:01 pm:

    No one could argue Chicago is a difficult place to live if you aren’t rich. No one. However, the minimum wage law is a dis-employment law . It’s says to the worker you can’t work for less than…. a certain amount. No employer hires anyone that can’t make a profit off of. Often, a minimum wage job is the gateway to a higher paying job.

  26. - Wally - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 7:29 pm:

    So Word, should Chicago go to $13/hour minimum wage? Yes or no.

  27. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 8:08 pm:

    I wonder how the Ounce of Prevention Fund feels.

  28. - ChrisB - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 8:15 pm:

    @Word, are you arguing trickle down economics? Make the economy better so that the people without jobs will finally be able to get them?

    Minimum wage increases don’t help people who don’t have jobs in the first place. According to Progress Illinois, Black male teens have an employment rate of 8%. That’s insane and disgusting at the same time. We shouldn’t be creating more barriers for them; we should be creating opportunities for them. Fix that unemployment problem, and a lot of other problems that hinder business development in the South and West sides will go away.

  29. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Aug 27, 14 @ 11:38 pm:

    No rational, documented reason that I’m aware of has been shown not to raise it. If the State went to $10 over 4 years and the City went to $13 over 3 or 4 more that might be just fine all around. Other home rule communities could do some add-on also, if they felt their cost of living justified it. I also don’t see any problem with a training wage if that would help get it passed, and with a somewhat lower rate for 18 -18 year olds.

  30. - Johnny Utah - Thursday, Aug 28, 14 @ 6:50 am:

    Minimum wage hikes have historically been followed by a decline in teen employment.

    Minimum wage is an issue you run on when you’ve totally failed the economy everywhere else. If the mayor wants to help the city’s poor, start hacking away at the city’s anti-poor, anti-entrepreneur regulations.

    The move from $8.25 to $13 will be a huge job killer. The question is whether the mayor wants it or wants to be seen as wanting it.

  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 28, 14 @ 7:37 am:

    This obsession among some of the “economists” here that the lowest hourly rate paid to 2.5% of the labor force is some sort of game-changer one way or the other for the economy is just bizarre.

    You think there are maybe a few other dynamics at work?

    In Illinois, there’s a lower minimum wage for those under 18. There’s a lower minimum wage for the first 90 days of employment. There’s a lower minimum wage for workers who get tips.

    Seventy-six percent of minimum wage workers are 20 and over; 78% are white.

    But some of you want to get rid of the minimum wage altogether because you’re so concerned about inner-city youth. Give me a break.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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