Governor Pat Quinn has recently made headlines due to his desire to raise the minimum wage in Illinois. Quinn used this idea as one of his primary running components in 2010, when he was elected into office after Rod Blagojevich was removed from office. The proposal would increase the state-wide minimum wage to $10.00 from $8.25, which is already one of the highest minimum wages in the country. Quinn is pursuing re-election next year.
Since Illinois is a democratic-controlled state, this push by Quinn to raise the minimum wage seems to be a re-election strategy. Raising the minimum wage tends to be a democratic-held belief. According to Edward McClelland of NBCChicago.com, Illinois has been the most democratic state in recent years, rivaled only by West Virginia.
If Pat Quinn’s push to raise the minimum wage is fueled purely by self-interest (re-election), then this is a good strategy. Nonetheless, he should weigh the benefits and consequences of raising the minimum wage because doing so could potentially have resounding effects on the economy and job availability.
Economists and Republicans generally tend to disagree with the fact that raising the minimum wage would benefit the poor. James Dorn, a contributor to Forbes.com, harshly opposes a minimum wage increase. He states that, “the belief that increasing the minimum wage is socially beneficial is a delusion” because based off simple supply and demand economics, “if the minimum wage exceeds the prevailing market, some workers will lose their jobs or have their hours cut.” This would obviously contribute to unemployment, and low-skilled workers would have no chance of getting a job because employers would seek out experienced workers who can live up to the wage increase. Also, companies would invest in labor-saving machinery and robotics, which would also contribute to unemployment.
Democrats argue that the standard of living is too high in this country for the minimum wage to be where it is now. According to timeforaraise.org, the government poverty line for a family of three is $18,123. If someone were to work 40 hours a week and gets paid minimum wage (in this case, $7.25 per hour-which is minimum wage in several states) this person’s income would total $14,500, which is well below the established poverty line.
I believe that increasing the minimum wage would benefit those who currently have a job, but hurt those who do not. It is a win-lose situation.
The standard of living is ridiculous in this country, and increasing the minimum wage would undoubtedly help those who currently have a job. It is unacceptable to have workers in America earning less than the authorized poverty line. They are contributing to society as best as they can and they should be rewarded with at least enough money to live comfortably.
On the other hand, increasing minimum wage would definitely be detrimental to young people trying to establish themselves in the workplace. Skilled workers would be the ones who keep their jobs, while young people would be expendable due to the lack of experience and training. It was hard enough for me to find a job over the summer due to my lack of experience in certain areas, and a hike in minimum wage would have made my job hunt nearly impossible.
Quinn’s push to increase minimum wage in this state is one that needs to be carefully evaluated because if it passes, it will affect everybody. He will receive backlash from those who are unemployed, but praise from those who are employed. It is impossible to please everyone, but I believe a primarily democratic state like Illinois would welcome a minimum wage increase with open arms.
Chris Chipman is a junior English major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to email@example.com.