By: Nana Aduba-Amoah
Chicago workers might see an increase in their paycheck soon. Effective today, the minimum wage is officially $12 per hour in the city of Chicago.
“We used to pay people $8.25 an hour,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a press release from his office. “Starting July 1, it goes up to $12, a 45 percent increase. No parent who works full-time should raise a child in poverty.”
In 2014, the City Council introduced the Minimum Wage Ordinance, sponsored by Emanuel and over 30 aldermen, in an effort to increase the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019. The ordinance anticipates that as minimum wage increases. 70,000 city workers will be out of poverty, and $860 million will be added to the city’s economy. Throughout the years, the minimum wage of $8.25 per hour steadily rose by 50 cents to $1. Last year, the hourly minimum wage was $11 per hour, and in 2016, workers made $10.50 per hour.
Although some critics fear that business owners will have to inflate their prices to compensate for the rise in pay, scholars argue that the wage increase has been lucrative for both businesses and workers, according to an article by the Chicago Sun-Times. Also, the ordinance notes that a study by the Economic Policy institute proves that a gradual increase in workers’ hourly pay can improve the overall economy.
“The weight of research on previous minimum wage increases shows that raising the minimum wage has little or no adverse impact on employment and prices – to the contrary, according to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage will help the economy at large, because workers’ increased spending power will increase our nation’s gross domestic product by about $33 billion and create approximately 140,000 jobs,” the ordinance states.
Nevertheless, not all Chicago workers will benefit from the minimum wage increase. Teenage workers under the age of 18 and adults who are beginning their first 90 days of work can still receive 50 cents less than the state’s minimum wage. Also, individuals that are working in businesses with less than three employees are exempt, under state law, from the minimum wage increase.