Illinois’ minimum wage set to increase to $11 in 2021
ILLINOIS (WIFR) - “What this does is it allows local control for the state minimum wage so that our economy essentially opens up a little bit more and puts money into those workers that are working hourly jobs,” said Jason Keller.
The state’s minimum wage takes another tick upward on January 1, hitting $11 for hourly workers, $6.60 for those who also earn tips and youth workers bump up to $8.50.
Illinois Department of Labor Assistant Director Jason Keller says there’s a reason for the move.
“The thought behind that is that when you put money in those workers hands is that they will go out and spend it and it will distribute around the economy and raise everyone’s economic level up, including businesses,” said Keller.
This marks the third jump in a year after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation in 2019.
The concern for industry leaders, however, is that the 33 percent increase comes during the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is a significant increase under the best of circumstances, but to do it in the middle of a pandemic when they have been closed for part of the year, and are currently operating at very limited capacities, or, for example, restaurants, taverns, entertainment facilities are closed outright; that makes it extraordinarily difficult,” said Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Rob Karr.
Karr says the retail federation asked the governor to consider other alternatives to the rate increase, but was denied.
“We asked them to suspend the increases, until we were outside of the pandemic, until the pandemic was done, and the economy could return to normal. We didn’t stay repeal it, we said suspend it. And that was simply rejected. So, for all the talk of wanting to help businesses recover; this was a simple thing to do and it was rejected,” said Karr.
While the state grapples with the economic fallout, Keller says the goal is to give every worker the chance to provide for their family.
“We want to have a thriving economy; we want to have thriving workers as well. And we believe this is the way to do it, to make sure that people are spending money throughout our economy in the state,” said Keller.
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