The General Assembly of Illinois over the weekend approved legislation that
would raise the state's minimum wage to $6.50 per hour in January 2005. Gov.
Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign the measure into law, the Chicago Tribune
The state's minimum wage would increase from $5.15 to $5.50 in January and
then rise to $6.50 in January 2005, according to the newspaper.
While low-wage earners would welcome the boost to their paychecks, some small
businesses are concerned about the impact it would have on their firms. For
example, the owner of a company that provides landscaping plants to retailers
says the higher minimum wage would restrict his hiring.
"A lot of things for which we used to hire someone at the minimum wage
just won't get done, or we'll buy a machine to do it," Peter Orum, owner
of Midwest Groundcovers, tells the newspaper.
If the governor signs the bill as expected, Illinois would become the 12th
state with a minimum wage that exceeds the federal level of $5.15 per hour.
The newspaper notes that about 450,000 workers who earn between $5.15 and $6.50
would benefit from the increase, according to a study from the University of
Illinois at Chicago.
Business groups say the new law would cost some workers their jobs.
"Someone will lose their job over this," says Kim Clarke Maisch of
the National Federation of Independent Business. "Will they hire one less
person? Probably. Will they fire someone? Probably."