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August 25, 2003
Illinois to Get Higher Minimum Wage in 2004, 2005
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.

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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 our state."

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 and Washington.

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