It was basically a political game initiated by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel just months before his contentious mayoral election. It was a political game which he absolutely could not lose. After all, how could aldermen in Chicago’s City Council possibly tell their electorate that they aren’t worth a $13-an-hour minimum wage and expect to be elected again? Though it seemed to be somewhat of a farse – severely protested by the small businessmen in Chicago – those who don’t write the checks for the employers of those small businessmen throughout Chicago made the new paycheck rules. The minimum wage in Chicago will now become $13-an-hour in the next five years, according to the Chicago Tribune.
While workers across the city are delighted that they will be making a little more money on their low-paying jobs – as well as people who work in the city but commute from the suburbs – there is great concern that businesses across the city will need to do a great deal of layoffs combined with price increases to its customers to turn a profit under the new paycheck rules led by Emanuel. Others fear even worse, believing that this will simply force many businesses to move out of Chicago to avoid folding. As it stands, the current $8.25-an-hour minimum hourly pay in Chicago will begin to ascend. Again, the pay will settle at $13 per hour by mid-2019.
The vote by the Chicago City Council to approve the measure was 44 in favor to just 5 opposed. Again, Mayor Emanuel and those who voted on the minimum wage hike are facing elections next Feb. 24 – and this is one of those crowd-pleasing issues that tend to pop up just before an election. Of course, there are many who won’t be as impressed with the wage hike as they are unimpressed with Emanuel’s and the City Council’s money-grabbing speed cams and the city’s red light cams. Many contend that if Emanuel really wanted to help people and their cash stance, he would quit dreaming up ideas like the speed cams which have inundated the city of Chicago – north, south, east, west, and central. They are basically everywhere.
Chicago’s minimum wage is currently $8.25 – as dictated by the state of Illinois’ minimum wage, says ABC News. It will increase in Chicago for the first time in July of 2015. At that time, it will increase to $10 per hour. After that, it will increase by 50 cents in July 2016 and another 50 cents increase in July 2017. The minimum wage will go up $1 in July 2018 and another $1 in 2019 to achieve its $13 per hour rate. After 2019, the annual increases will be marked by the local consumer price index – being limited at 2.5 percent if the unemployment rate stays below 8.5 percent.
The controversy includes the argument that minimum wage jobs are meant to be for high school students and not persons who are working to support themselves and possibly a family. Also of concern is that people who are making little more than $13 per hour are skilled workers who will now expect to see that their pay is increased as well – yet, by law, it probably won’t be. Others who have been in favor of the law argue that many people who make minimum wage are, in fact, supporting themselves and are not simply high school students doing a minimum-paying job. The measure passed, but the controversy continues.