We need jobs that keep people out of poverty, not in it! Raising the minimum wage is good common sense—people who work for a living should make enough money to provide for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now. If a worker earns the minimum wage here in Illinois, $8.25 an hour, and works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, he or she makes just $16,830. It’s time we raise that amount. That’s why the Shriver Center supports the Raise Illinois Campaign, and I hope you will as well. Please sign the voter petition today.
In Illinois, this year was the first year in five years that we did not raise the minimum wage. But even before this year, the minimum wage has stagnated while the cost of living continues to rise. Minimum wage earners in Illinois already have $2/hour less in purchasing power than a minimum wage earner in the late 1960s. Let’s create a fair minimum wage that’s in line with its historic level—around $10.65 an hour—and indexed to inflation.
This is the time to raise the minimum wage. Research shows, and many economists agree, that raising the minimum wage helps many workers whose income is either right at minimum, or just above it, without reducing employment. It gives a needed boost to our communities, because low-wage workers will spend the extra earnings right where they live.
Wages have fallen significantly because of the recession. The new jobs that are coming back are more likely to be low-wage than the jobs they replace. The vast majority of minimum-wage workers are adults, not teens, and many are using their low incomes to support families. If you’re lucky enough to not know what it’s like to earn a poverty-level wage, consider reading our worker stories, or this moving editorial. By helping workers have the basic necessities better covered, raising the minimum wage helps reduce employee turnover, increase worker productivity, and reduce worker’s reliance on taxpayer-funded public benefits. By raising the minimum wage, we’ll increase consumer spending, which is the driver of economic growth.
We also need to make sure more workers are even guaranteed the minimum wage. Did you know that tipped workers in Illinois currently are paid as little as $4.95 an hour? And domestic workers in Illinois have no minimum wage at all? We need to make this a just society, where hard work is rewarded with an income that can sustain a family.
The Raise Illinois Coalition has introduced a great bill into the Illinois General Assembly, SB 1565. Now it’s all of our turn to see that it passes. Please take 30 seconds to sign a petition in support of the bill and “like” the campaign on Facebook. Then get involved, get educated, tell your story, find and contact your state legislators, and advance the fight for a fair minimum wage in Illinois.