ICYMI: ILEPI on Chicago Tonight Discussing Minimum Wage

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


On May 20, 2014, ILEPI Policy Director Frank Manzo IV was a panelist on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight with Ted Dabrowski discussing the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage in Illinois. Manzo supported raising the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour while Dabrowski has endorsed abolishing Illinois’ minimum wage altogether. Here is a link to the segment, and below is additional information on the effects of raising the minimum wage in Illinois.


Should we raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour?

The Illinois economy is still recovering from the Great Recession. The unemployment rate is about one and a half percentage points lower today than it was one year ago. But the recovery has seen an ongoing rise in income inequality in the labor market. To partially offset the income gap– independent of any action (or nonaction) at the federal level– Illinois should raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

In 2012, 1 million of the state’s 6 million workers earned less than $10 an hour. Of these one million low-wage earners, 57 percent were female, 45 percent were nonwhite, and 60 percent worked full-time (35 hours a week or more). In a study co-authored with the University of Illinois, ILEPI found that raising the minimum wage to $10 would increase worker income by $2 billion for these low-wage workers and lift 60,000 to 100,000 Illinois residents above the poverty line, reducing reliance on government programs and lowering costs to taxpayers. These workers would then spend that new income back in the economy, resulting in $7 billion in new economic output, and either a very small drop or a very small gain in employment. Thus, in Illinois, a state where the cost of living is higher than the national average, a raise to $10 would be beneficial to the economy. See the full report here [pdf].

Why does the minimum wage have a stimulative impact? What about economic theory which says it reduces jobs?

We know that reality is, unfortunately, far more complex than economic theory. Research shows little to no discernible impact of the minimum wage on employment. Most estimates on the supposed reduction in jobs are between zero percent and less than a fraction of a percent— it would be a false representation of economic research to suggest otherwise. We also know that poorer Americans spend higher shares of their incomes in the economy than richer Americans. One 2009 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found that “spending increases substantially after a minimum wage hike.” For every $1 increase in the minimum wage, families with a minimum wage earner raise spending by $744 to $869 per year.

Isn’t the minimum wage a job killer for small businesses? Continue reading “ICYMI: ILEPI on Chicago Tonight Discussing Minimum Wage”

Right-to-Work’s Broken Promises

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.

Right-to-work has not worked in Indiana.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate has steadily ticked down and is nearing 7 percent. Last year, over 40,000 more business establishments opened than closed across America. The total number of Americans with a job is up almost 2 percent since February 2012. Employers are starting to hire again and consumer demand is slowly rising.

And with the passage of a right-to-work law on February 1, 2012 (which proponents claimed would attract businesses and create jobs), the Indiana economy has been spearheading the economic recovery, right?


An October 16, 2013 study (LINK) by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI), a new research and policy nonprofit, assessed right-to-work’s economic track record in Indiana thus far. Since the law went into effect, 779 more businesses have closed than have opened in Indiana, the unemployment rate has not fallen, and the total number of Indiana residents with a job has declined by 0.4 percent.

The verdict? So far the promises made by right-to-work’s supporters in Indiana have nearly all been broken.

The problem: Right-to-work is a nonfactor as an economic development incentive.

Despite claims that right-to-work entices new businesses to open up in a particular state, survey after survey of corporate executives reports that the policy is not a prevailing factor in whether a firm will locate to a state. Additionally, by limiting collective bargaining units, right-to-work laws act to take away an effective front-end solution for small businesses to hire, train, drug-test, and provide health insurance to workers. Unions have long provided these services to businesses and absorbed the costs through dues and fees. Under right-to-work, these costs shift to small businesses. Finally, right-to-work has been found to lower worker wages by around 3 percent annually. With lower incomes, workers have less money to spend. Why would a private business want to relocate to a state where consumer demand for its product or service is diminished? Continue reading “Right-to-Work’s Broken Promises”