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Chicago to Raise Minimum Wage to $13/Hour

December 6, 2014

The Chicago City Council voted overwhelmingly on December 2 to raise the city’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by mid-2019.

The wage-increase plan had been endorsed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D). Just five out of the City Council’s 50 members voted against the plan.

The plan establishes a gradual increase for the city’s minimum wage. Currently set at $8.25, the minimum wage in Illinois, Chicago’s minimum wage will reach $10 an hour next July, then increase each year by increments of 50 cents or $1 until reaching $13. Future increases will be tied to the national inflation rate.

City officials say that more than 400,000 Chicago residents currently earn less than $13 an hour.

These residents likely include many direct-care workers. In Illinois, median wages for each of the three main direct-care jobs (personal care aides, home health aides, and nursing assistants) were all well under $13 an hour in 2013.

“A higher minimum wage is a necessary step in helping direct-care workers achieve financial security and making these jobs more attractive,” said Tameshia Bridges Mansfield, PHI Midwest program and policy manager.

“It is also important that the Medicaid-funded providers that employ these workers have reimbursement rates that are sufficient for them to raise the wage and not compromise services to elders and people with disabilities,” she adds.

Minimum Wage Hikes a Growing Trend

Chicago is one of several major cities to substantially raise its minimum wage in 2014. In June, Seattle passed a law that will boost its minimum to $15 an hour by 2021.

In the November midterm elections, voters in San Francisco and Oakland approved ballot measures that will raise the minimum hourly wages to $15 and $12.25, respectively.

Also during the November elections, Illinois voters approved a nonbinding resolution calling on the state to increase its minimum wage from $8.25.

An effort to pass legislation that would establish an $11 an hour minimum wage in Illinois “stalled” on December 2, the Associated Press reported.

— by Matthew Ozga

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