Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich last week signed a law raising the state's
minimum wage by $1.35 an hour over the next 16 months.
The state's minimum wage will rise in two increments starting Jan. 1, 2004,
when the minimum wage increases 35 cents to $5.50 per hour for individuals 18
years old and older. On Jan. 1, 2005, the minimum wage will increase to $6.50
per hour. The governor says a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago
found that the legislation could affect as many as 450,000 low-income workers.
"Today, Americans are still working a fair day, but many are no longer
receiving fair pay," says Blagojevich. "Workers who are paid well
are more loyal to their employers and more productive. And, because nearly half
a million of our state's workers will have more money in their pockets to spend,
businesses will benefit from higher sales. A better minimum wage is good for
business, and it's good for working families; it's the right thing to do for
The General Assembly of Illinois passed the legislation in June.
Critics contend the state's higher minimum wage will hurt businesses and cost
jobs. Citing a sluggish economy, they say it is an ill-advised effort.
Illinois joins 11 other states and the District of Columbia that have a minimum
wage higher than the federal standard. The other states are Alaska, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont