Mayor Supports Proposal That Would Benefit Approximately 410,000 Workers and Inject an Additional $800 Million into Chicago’s Economy over Four Years                                                                    

The Minimum Wage Working Group of community, labor and business leaders appointed by Mayor Emanuel to develop a balanced plan to increase the minimum wage in Chicago today submitted its report recommending that the City establish a minimum wage of $13 by 2018. This increase would raise wages for approximately 410,000 workers and add $800 million to Chicago’s economy over four years. The Working Group also recommended that an effort to increase the local minimum wage should follow an opportunity by the Illinois General Assembly to increase the Illinois minimum wage during the veto session at the end of this year. The full report is available HERE.

“I fully support the proposal by the Working Group to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 in the next four years and want to thank the hundreds of residents and members of the Group who voiced their thoughts and contributed to this proposal,” Mayor Emanuel said. “When people hold a job and do the work, they deserve to live better than to live in poverty and now we can take that next step towards making sure that every working Chicagoan has a shot the middle class.”

The Working Group developed the recommendation following six weeks of research, analysis and public engagement that included five public meetings across the City and more than 200 comments were submitted online. During that time, the Group also consulted with experts and advocates from labor and business in developing its recommendation, which was adopted with a 14-3 vote.

“More than 400,000 Chicago workers will benefit from our Working Group’s proposal,” Alderman Will Burns (4th Ward) said. “By working together and listening carefully to others, the Working Group has produced a balanced set of recommendations that will have a positive impact on our city.”​

“Our recommendation for increasing Chicago’s minimum wage will result in hundreds of thousands of hard-working people being able through their work to keep their families out of poverty.  And they will spend their higher income buying necessary goods and services in Chicago’s stores and restaurants”.  John Bouman, President, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law said. “By making work a path out of poverty, we can also improve these workers’ chances for continuing upward mobility.” 

The report recommends that the City of Chicago establish a minimum wage of $13, phased in over four years, and indexed to inflation, that the tipped minimum wage increase by $1 over two years from the current state minimum of $4.95 and be indexed to inflation going forward, and that the local minimum wage retain existing state exemptions for workers under the age of 18 and individuals undergoing training, among others.

To ensure that an increase in the local minimum wage does not place the City at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of Illinois, a recommendation was also made to wait for the General Assembly to make another attempt to raise the statewide minimum wage during the next veto session expected at the end of the year before acting. Waiting until the state acts will allow for Illinois voters to express their views on an increase to the minimum wage on the November ballot.

Mayor Emanuel appointed the members of the Working Group on May 20, 2014. It is chaired by John Bouman, President, Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and Will Burns, Alderman of the 4thWard. Members include