Oct 26, 2022

Chicago’s minimum wage would increase to $15 in 2021, four years earlier than in the rest of the state, under a proposal aldermen introduced to the City Council on Wednesday.

South Side Ald. Sophia King, 4th, said the higher cost of living in the city than downstate makes the quicker bump necessary. “That is why we are here today,” King said at a news conference to announce the ordinance.

The “Raise Chicago” ordinance would increase the city’s minimum wage to $14 on July 1, 2020, and to $15 on July 1, 2021.

New Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been supportive of the idea of a $15 Chicago minimum wage.

On Wednesday, she reiterated her support for increasing the minimum wage, but stopped short of throwing her weight behind the “Raise Chicago” ordinance. She promised a public process to vet the wage plan and a proposed ordinance requiring new rules on employee scheduling.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to review the particulars of the ordinance that was introduced by Ald. King,” Lightfoot said at a news conference after the City Council meeting. “But we’re going to be working — here’s the thing that’s going to be different. … What’s important to me is to make sure that on issues like the fair workweek and the minimum wage that we actually have a public deliberative process.”

While business groups have argued that the higher wages could lead to layoffs, King said studies have shown no impact on employment levels as minimum wages go up.

King’s proposal eliminates the lower minimum wage for workers who get tips and also raises wages for city sister agencies like the Chicago Transit Authority. She said it would affect about 400,000 Chicago workers.

Chicago’s minimum wage will hit $13 this July under an ordinance the City Council passed several years ago.

The state legislature passed a bill this past session to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

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