On Wednesday, Illinois State lawmakers passed a law that the state’s minimum wage will increase from the current $8.25 to $15 by the year 2025, joining more than 20 other states seeking to implement higher wages for workers.
As it stands right now, a current, full-time, minimum-wage employee earns roughly $17,000 per year, which is well below the poverty line. The increase would raise that yearly salary to about $31,000.
According to the Pantagraph, if the bill passes in the House, Illinois minimum wage would increase from the current $8.25 per hour, where it has sat since 2010, to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020. After a 75-cent bump to $10 on July 1, 2020, the wage would increase $1 each Jan. 1 until 2025.
Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said Thursday that increasing the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.25 an hour — the first-phase increase in the legislation — “would cost us about $600,000.”
Raising the minimum wage by so much in such a short amount of time is definitely something that has a lot of people divided. None of the House Republicans voted to pass the law, making it possible for it to go through based on the Democratic majority of the Illinois government alone.
Many critics of the higher minimum wage argue that these entry-level jobs aren’t meant for those that are supporting themselves and are only supposed to be for teenagers working their first jobs in the workforce or students that just need part-time work. Yet they expect these employees to be available to them 24/7.
If you want to be able to get a burger on your lunch break, and the only people you think should be working jobs in fast food are students, something doesn’t add up.
Others argue that while an increase in minimum wage is a good thing, increasing so much by 2025 is too much in too short of a time, but Illinois has a lot of catching up to do.
Our state ranks on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to each state’s minimum wage, and has the biggest gap between what our workers are being paid and what it costs to live here, especially the closer you get to the city of Chicago. And with the cost of higher education greater than ever before, it is simply unacceptable to expect everyone to be able to seek that type of work.
While there are real issues that can arise from increasing the minimum wage, it is important to recognize that we have never before had a bigger gap between inflation and what we pay our working class. There should be no reason that any American citizen working 40 hours a week shouldn’t be able to afford the basic necessities required to live.