Illinois lawmakers have recently passed a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for adults, and minors will have their wages stay the same at $7.75 an hour. This change was preceded by Chicago’s decisions to raise their minimum wage to $12 an hour (in 2018), and New York also raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour (in 2016). Illinois’s plan is to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by the summer of 2020 and then by a dollar every year after until it reaches $15 an hour. Blackburn College students have varying opinions on the matter. I believe that this is a needed change, but done in an incorrect way, because $15 an hour can be too much for a lot of local business owners.
Sophomore accounting major Josh Sumrow is not entirely in support of the sudden change in minimum wage, but still agrees with parts: “Illinois definitely needs to raise the minimum wage . . . $8.25 is not a livable wage.” With this wage increase, there will also be tax breaks to small businesses to help them keep the same number of employees. Sumrow says, however, that with the increased wages, there would be increased taxes on citizens as well, because someone will have to pick up the slack of those tax breaks.
“Chicago seems to be the basis for everything [Illinois lawmakers] do. They need to keep in mind the majority of Illinois is not Chicago. Most of Illinois is extremely rural,” Sumrow stated Most rural areas in Illinois, Sumrow continued, are not as pricey as Chicago. The raise of minimum wage will mainly help in Chicago because of the higher cost of living, but might hurt more than it helps in smaller towns in rural Illinois. Sumrow goes onto say that it would work better with only a $10-12 an hour minimum wage raise.
On the opposing side, junior computer science major Tyler Braden agrees with the minimum wage increase. He goes on to say that the minimum wage has remained stagnant, while the cost of living has increased. “I’m not sure we can legislate ourselves into prosperity. I don’t need a minimum wage increase is gonna fix all of our problems. It’s gonna help a lot of people. It’s gonna help a lot of people get out of poverty,” Braden said. However, he believes that this wage increase will create a “revolving door of untrained employees” due to the fact that people under 18 will not have an increase to $15. He does not believe that this issue will heavily affect communities like Carlinville as there is not a large population of high school students actively seeking jobs, but cities like Chicago or Springfield may be affected.
This raise is a much needed one in poverty-stricken areas. Do I believe that this may negatively affect some local businesses? Yes, but big corporations and businesses should have no problem doing this for their employees. Due to the fact that this may hurt small business owners, however, I agree with Sumrow’s idea of only raising it to $10-12 an hour, so it doesn’t put too much financial stress on small businesses. However, as stated before, $8.25 is not a livable wage. I grew up in a home where my mother only made that amount from her place of work, and we are barely able to get by from check-to-check and there are only two of us. In larger households, this is a rampant problem that has not been fixed.