The Daily Eastern News

Illinois $15: Minimum wage law comes to Charleston

Trevin Milner, Contributing Writer

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The Illinois House passed a bill 69-47 Thursday evening, increasing the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 an hour by 2025.

While the topic of a minimum wage increase has caused controversy state-wide, economics professor James Bruehler said it does benefit some people.

Bruehler said the people most likely to benefit from the increase are high school students and college students who make minimum wage, or the spouses of high-income people who have minimum wage jobs but whose household income is already high.

With wages increasing at places with the majority of workers making minimum wage, consumers could be affected by raised prices, but it is not as simple as that, Bruehler said.

“If all of the wages go up in response to the raise in minimum wage, then that’s the sequence of seeing the prices rise,” Bruehler said.

Small businesses and those with limited budgets will be affected if the increase does take place.

The Employment Policies Institute argues that while a higher minimum wage is easier for corporations to adopt, it is not as easy for small local businesses.

The Small Business Administration reports that small businesses account for 55 percent of jobs in the U.S. and 54 percent of sales, making them the backbone of the economy according to the EPI.

Jayna Menser, owner of The Winning Stitch in Charleston, said she does not think the increase does any good for her business.

“Obviously we would have to raise our prices to compensate,” Menser said. “We already have a limited staff, but we would have to limit that even more.”

Menser said they would be more likely to cut hours for their employees rather than laying some of them off.

Menser does not think the increase will benefit the stores or the consumers.

“I just think (the minimum wage increase) forces everyone, every business around us, to raise prices, so it’s all the same just on a different level,” Menser said.

Dan Reible, owner of Jackson Avenue Coffee in Charleston, said the increase could have a widespread impact on businesses in Illinois.

“Big corporations can absorb the cost, but it’s a major impact on the work force in the entire country long-term, but specifically Illinois for now,” Reible said.

Reible said it would be difficult to employ the same amount of workers as he does now and envisions himself doing even more than he already does at Jackson Avenue.

While local businesses in Charleston will have to make some changes, so could the university, Bruehler said.

“The university’s budget is not going to go up because of this, so they will have to employ fewer people at these minimum wage jobs or have to find savings elsewhere,” Bruehler said.

Proposing an increase in the Illinois minimum wage as a way to help the working poor is dishonest and misleading, he said.

The increase in minimum wage will result in a higher income, he said, but will also increase taxes and eliminate some of the subsidies people receive.

Bruehler said that a single mother in Chicago who makes minimum wage and brings in roughly $25,000 a year can receive an even higher amount of government assistance and subsidies.

The increase in minimum wage would put her yearly earnings at $37,000, placing her in a position to receive substantially less assistance.

Trevin Milner can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Illinois $15: Minimum wage law comes to Charleston