Ives: Chicago can be pilot program on minimum wage direction
With many cities and states across the nation raising or considering raising the minimum wage, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R- Wheaton) wants Illinois to take a more measured approach.
During a session of the House Committee on Labor and Commerce on increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour, Ives said that she would like to see how Chicago and Cook County perform with their minimum wage increases before enacting anything on a state level.
“I would just like to see … how that would affect employment opportunities before we go further with the statewide minimum wage laws,” Ives said.
Chicago has increased its minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, with an eye on setting a base starting wage of $13 by summer 2019. Cook County will increasing its minimum to $10 per hour by July of this year, also with the goal of making it $13 by July 2020.
“I think we should see how that plays out almost as a test market -- as a pilot program, let’s say -- on minimum wage, before we affect the rest of the state that may be under ... different economics in their thriving communities,” Ives said. “I would just ask that we maybe see how that goes and check out the employment statistics and the job creations there.”
One of the concerns for Ives is that increasing wages could put some adults into a higher tax bracket, which could prevent them from maintaining certain benefits on which they rely.
“You’re going to hit a point where the single able-bodied adult making $30K a year is going to phase out of much of those subsidies and still make the argument that they are not able afford a certain living standard,” Ives said. “I think that there is a diminishing return, and we know that there is going to be a drop off, and it’s probably going to be something we need to correct for in the future in terms of, the more you make, the more the government takes away benefits. We have to have a discussion about that as well, but under the current structure, raising them to a particular minimum wage that then places them out of certain benefits may be a detriment to them in many cases.”
She concluded that Illinois needs to first examine its labor market and job force before implementing a minimum wage increase. She wants workers to be able to move beyond a minimum wage job and into something more sustainable.
“We want them to be able to work themselves out of a minimum shop,” Ives said. “We want to provide them opportunities. There are other things going in the labor force and the job market that need to be corrected for.”
Ives did not suggest a specific time frame for watching Chicago and Cook County before deciding on a statewide minimum wage increase.
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