Chicago Raises Minimum Wage While Illinois Wage Increase Stalls

minimum wage, Illinois wage increase, Gierach Law Firm, Naperville business law attorney, minimum wage debate, Rahm Emanuel, minimum wage rate, Pat Quinn, The minimum wage debate at the state, local, and federal level has swept the nation and resulted in some interesting developments for businesses in Illinois. At the beginning of December, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with aldermen of the Chicago City Council, approved the decision to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019.  The vote was in favor of a five-year plan presented by Mayor Emanuel.

Within this plan, the current minimum wage rate of $8.25 will be first increased to $10.00 an hour in 2014, and then to $10.50 in 2016, $11.00 in 2017, $12.00 in 2018, and finally to the rate of $13.00 an hour by 2019.

The vote to raise Chicago’s minimum wage rate was held during a special City Council meeting that was called as a result of concerns that Illinois’ General Assembly would soon approve a statewide increase from $8.25 an hour to $10 an hour, which would have effectively prohibited Chicago from enacting a higher minimum wage rate.

However, concerns about the imminent passing of a statewide minimum wage rate were unfounded. Though the bill to raise Illinois’ minimum wage rate passed the Illinois Senate, it will not be considered by the Illinois House of Representatives until next year when new governor elect Bruce Rauner takes office.

The Debate over Illinois Minimum Wage Increase

In November, an advisory referendum, in favor of raising the state minimum wage, garnered great support from Illinois voters. As a result, the bill to raise the Illinois’ minimum wage to $10 an hour was entered into the Illinois Senate by democrats who wanted to have the bill passed so that ultimate approval could be received by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Though the minimum wage increase was passed by the Senate, the Illinois House of Representative adjourned their session for the year without voting on the minimum wage hike.

Now, even if the bill passes the Illinois House of Representatives, it remains to be seen whether governor-elect Bruce Rauner will actually approve the wage increase. Rauner, an extremely successful businessman, has been seen as very pro-business, and at first glance he could be expected to not approve the bill in order to protect the interests of Illinois business owners. However, Rauner has gone on the record supporting the need for a minimum wage hike, and even applauded Chicago for its divisive decision to raise the minimum wage rate. In fact Rauner stated that:

“I am working to raise the minimum wage statewide and let Illinois lead the way for the national in building the middle class. Putting money in the pockets of working families grows the economy and helps businesses thrive.”

What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?

Of course, the change in minimum wages will have effects on businesses throughout all of Illinois. If you need legal advice on how a potential minimum wage increase could increase your business’s obligations, or require any other type of small business law legal representation or advice, contact the Naperville small business law attorneys of  the Gierach Law Firm today.