La Grange: A $15 minimum wage would increase paychecks for low-income workers and have the largest impacts on communities outside of the Chicago region, according to a new study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The report notes that four states have enacted legislation to gradually raise their minimum wages to $15 per hour– including New Jersey last week– and that 19 states increased their wage floors last month. Additionally, the people of Missouri voted to raise their minimum wage to $12 an hour last November. By contrast, Illinois’ adult minimum wage has been set at $8.25 per hour since July 2010.
“Working-class families in Illinois are falling behind their peers in other states,” said study co-author and ILEPI Policy Director Frank Manzo IV. “A $15 minimum wage would boost earnings for more than 1.4 million adult workers across Illinois.”
Drawing on peer-reviewed academic research and using industry-standard IMPLAN economic modeling, the report found that a $15 minimum wage would have the largest impacts on low-income workers in communities outside of the Chicago metro area.
While the policy would increase the annual incomes of directly-affected workers by about $5,000 in the Chicago area, it would increase earnings for their peers by more than $8,000 in the Springfield area, more than $7,000 in the Rockford area, and more than $6,000 in the St. Louis area. These higher incomes, the authors find, would boost consumer spending at local retail stores, restaurants, and small businesses– offsetting any initial drop in employment or hours.
The report also mentions that, in the 2014 General Election, two-thirds of respondent voters in Illinois supported increasing the state’s minimum wage. The advisory ballot measure received majority support in 83 of Illinois’ 102 counties.
“There is broad public support in favor of raising the minimum wage in every region of Illinois,” Manzo concluded. “A uniform $15 minimum wage would allow working-class families to maintain a decent standard of living and reduce poverty in every corner of the state.”