SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) is against a measure (HB3814) that passed through an Illinois House committee Friday morning. The proposal would put a non-binding referendum on the November ballot, asking voters if Illinois’ minimum wage bill should be increased to $10 per hour.
“Illinois employers find no comfort in the fact that this is a non-binding referendum,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “Illinois simply cannot afford to raise the minimum wage. If we raise it again, that will amount to an 81 percent increase in the minimum wage over the past decade. Illinois has the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest and the fifth worst in the entire country. Right now many Illinois employers are not hiring younger workers at $8.25 per hour. We know hiring will not increase if minimum wage goes up to $10 per hour. Increasing the minimum wage will force employers to cut jobs, keeping those who need them the most, especially those in the 16-24 age range, out of work.”
The IRMA put together a list of facts concerning the minimum wage in Illinois:
- Illinois' minimum wage is already the highest in the Midwest and is tied for sixth highest in the entire nation. Illinois' minimum wage is $.75-$1.00 higher than all its neighboring states.
- Raising the minimum wage will continue to keep people, especially teens, out of jobs. According to the Chicago Urban League, unemployment in many Chicago neighborhoods exceeds 90 percent; the state's remaining teens also face difficulty finding work with only 27 percent receiving the experience of a paycheck.
- Higher minimum wage does not alleviate poverty. The Illinois minimum wage has already increased 50 percent since 2004. During those same years, the state's poverty rate has risen from 11 percent to 15 percent. There is no evidence that the minimum wage has alleviated poverty in our state.