Chicago Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage to $13 an Hour

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Chicago Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage to $13 an Hour

Nina Liss-Schultz

The Chicago City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by the middle of 2019. In Chicago and the rest of Illinois, the minimum wage stands at $8.25, a number similar to that of many other states in the country.

The Chicago City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by the middle of 2019. In Chicago and the rest of Illinois, the minimum wage stands at $8.25, a number similar to that of many other states in the country.

The vote on Tuesday means that, starting in July 2015, the minimum wage will go up to $10 an hour. That number is set to increase incrementally over four years until it hits $13, according to the ordinance, which passed 44 to 5.

The move comes on the heels of a non-binding referendum question placed on the November ballot that asked voters in Illinois whether the state should raise its minimum wage to $10. The question passed with almost 70 percent of the vote.

“A higher minimum wage ensures that nobody who works in the City of Chicago will ever struggle to reach the middle class or be forced to raise their child in poverty,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

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More than 400,000 Chicago workers make minimum wage, according to Emanuel’s website.

The ordinance states that “rising inflation has outpaced the growth in minimum wage, leaving the true value of Illinois’s current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour 32 percent below the 1968 level of $10.71 per hour (in 2013 dollars).”

Illinois is one of a handful of states that voted for minimum wage increases during the November midterms. Minimum wage ballot measures have proven popular across the country, with support from a variety of voters.

Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota also approved minimum wage increases, through ballot measures. In nine other states, minimum wages will increase in January thanks to increases mandated by state law, including in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Ohio.

Many major U.S. cities and municipalities have also gone ahead with their own wage increases. In Seattle, for example, a measure was passed to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2017. Oakland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. have also passed minimum wage increases. Los Angeles and New York City have proposed wage increase legislation.

Meanwhile, Congress has been unable to pass its own wage increase. The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, a number lower than the minimum wages in almost half of states. In April, Senate Republicans rejected a measure to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.