A $15 Minimum Wage Would Boost Worker Earnings in All Regions of Illinois

A new report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that a $15 minimum wage would boost earnings for working-class families in every area of the state.

Illinois should raise the minimum wage. The last time that Illinois increased its minimum wage was in July 2010. A total of 13 states now have minimum wages of $10 per hour or higher, and four have enacted legislation to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A new report by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that a $15 minimum wage would boost worker earnings while having little to no effect on employment, business growth, and consumer prices.

  • A $15 minimum wage would directly affect more than 1.4 million adult workers in Illinois. Of these individuals, 57 percent are women, 44 percent are African American workers and Latino and Latina workers, 89 percent are U.S. citizens, and 56 percent are workers age 30 or older.
  • A $15 minimum wage would have the largest impact on low-income workers in communities outside of the Chicago metro area. While the policy change would raise incomes by about $5,000 for directly-affected workers in the Chicago area, it would increase earnings for low-wage workers by over $8,000 in the Springfield and Bloomington-Normal areas, over $7,000 in the Rockford and Champaign-Urbana regions, and more than $6,000 in the Illinois communities around St. Louis.
  • A $15 minimum wage would increase consumer demand from working-class families, who would spend their earnings at local retail stores and restaurants– offsetting initial drops in labor demand.
  • In 2014, two-thirds of Illinois voters favored raising the minimum wage. The measure received majority support in 83 of 102 counties, indicating broad support across all regions of the state.

Illinois’ current minimum wage of $8.25 fails to prevent workers from earning poverty-level wages. A uniform $15 minimum wage in Illinois would allow working-class families to maintain a decent standard of living in every community across the state. By raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, Illinois can boost worker incomes, reduce poverty, promote housing affordability, increase consumer demand, and grow the economy.


Featured Image: Walmart. (2011). “Walmart Grocery Checkout Line.” Flickr Creative Commons User. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

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