Illinois to increase minimum wage in 2007

Wage to increase to $7.50 in July 2007; $7.75 in July 2008; $8 in July 2009; $8.25 in July 2010

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois’ minimum wage will increase to $7.50 per hour in July 2007 and $8.25 an hour by 2010.

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich was joined by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis and other legislators, labor leaders and workers to sign Senate Bill 1268, increasing the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour in July 2007 and to $8.25 an hour by 2010.

Senate Bill 1268—co-sponsored by State Representatives Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago) and Larry McKeon (D-Chicago), and State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood)—will help 647,000 workers in Illinois.

Under the terms of the legislation, the state’s minimum wage will rise by $1 to $7.50 per hour beginning July 1, 2007. Beyond that date, the legislation includes annual increases for three years: to $7.75 in July 2008, $8 in July 2009, and $8.25 in 2010. The legislation goes into effect July 1, 2007.

Based on the governor’s increase, a full-time minimum wage worker will see his or her income increase from $13,520 to $15,600 per year. By 2010, the yearly income for a full-time minimum wage earner will be $17,160.

As he signed the bill during an event at the Bethel New Life Center on Chicago’s West side, Blagojevich said: “One of the best things we can do as state government is to help make sure people who work hard all day, make enough to live on. Thousands of hard-working Illinoisans benefited when the minimum wage went up to $6.50 an hour. But it’s not enough anymore. Raising the minimum wage again will make it a little easier for thousands of families to pay the bills, put food on the table or buy clothes for their children.”

This marks the second time during his administration that Blagojevich fought for and signed legislation raising the minimum wage. He first increased the wage in 2003 above the federal level of $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour (the federal minimum wage remains at $5.15, where it has been stagnant since 1997). When the final rate of $8.25 per hour takes effect in 2010, that will mean Blagojevich has helped boost pay for minimum wage workers in Illinois by $3.10 per hour, or 60 percent. This makes Illinois a national leader in wages for workers.

Diane Elliot, a minimum-wage worker at a nursing home from Jacksonville, Ill., said: “I’m so glad the governor’s raising the minimum wage. I feel like he, more than anyone else, understands that we need this raise. I’m getting minimum wage. I work two jobs. I live by myself. I pay my bills myself. But, I know I’m not the only one. There are so many people working two jobs just to pay the bills. My doctor tells me to slow down, but I just can’t. This increase will be a big help for me.”

Despite predictions from opponents of the minimum wage that its increase would harm the economy, since the governor’s first minimum wage hike went into effect in January 2004, Illinois has added more than 152,000 new jobs, which is more than any state in the Midwest, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Illinois has led the nation in job growth twice this year (April and July), which has never happened before in recorded history, and has been named the third best state in the nation for attracting new and expanded corporate facilities by Site Selection Magazine, Inc.

In addition, the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.7 percent in January 2003, when the fight for the higher minimum wage began, to 4.1 percent today, which is the state’s lowest level on record.

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

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