Minimum wage increase becomes law

Derek Swanson, News Editor

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2025 with the state’s current minimum was at $8.25 per hour. The minimum wage will increase by one dollar annually. 

Pritzker delivered on this campaign promise to increase the wage early without the aid of any Republican votes. His first budget proposal was delivered to lawmakers on Feb. 20.

Minimum wage workers in Illinois make an average of $17,160 annually, assuming they work 40 hours per week. As household sizes grow and workers struggle to support themselves and their families, they risk entering the poverty level.

“Today is a resounding victory for the 1.4 million Illinoisans who will soon get a hard-earned and well-deserved raise,” said Pritzker after signing the bill.

Pritzker was able to avoid much Republican criticism by spreading the increase out over six years, as opposed to raising the wage all at once. “Given the Democratic control of the General Assembly and the overall popularity of minimum wage increases among voters, it’s not surprising this was the first major accomplishment of the new administration,” said Dr. Steven Nawara, assistant professor of political science. “It was an easy legislative win for Pritzker that avoided messy intraparty divisions.” 

The first increase to the wage structure will take place in early 2020, resulting in a new minimum of $9.00 an hour.