SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded members of the Illinois Senate for approving legislation to increase the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour, and provide for future cost of living adjustments indexed to inflation. Senate Bill 1275 now moves to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration. Under terms of the Senate bill, the state’s minimum wage would rise by $1.00 per hour to $7.50 per hour beginning July 1, 2007. Starting in January 2008, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation to provide an annual wage adjustment in order to help workers keep up rising prices. Up to 647,000 Illinois workers are expected to benefit from the minimum wage increase either directly or indirectly. In addition, 269,000 children are expected to benefit.
“Someone working forty hours a week, fifty two weeks a year at the minimum wage earns just over $13,000. You can’t raise a family on $13,000 a year. Nearly 650,000 men and women in Illinois work for the minimum wage and they have nearly 300,000 children. So increasing the minimum wage means helping nearly one million people keep up with the cost of living and it means making it a little easier for them to get by. I appreciate the quick action by the Illinois Senate and I encourage the Illinois House of Representatives to follow suit,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Last month, Governor Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were joined by members of the Illinois General Assembly, labor leaders and other leaders in the fight for working families when they first announced the proposed minimum wage bill. The Governor and Mayor have vowed to push for its passage during the upcoming fall veto session so those Illinois citizens who need support the most will benefit and be able to better support themselves and their families.
“As legislators we cannot let the hard working families of Illinois be left behind. As prices increase, it becomes harder and harder in live off a minimum wage salary. I am pleased to report that the Senate moved swiftly in passing Governor Blagojevich’s progressive minimum wage inflation,” said Senate bill sponsor Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).
Gov. Blagojevich fought for and signed legislation raising the minimum wage in 2003 from the federal level of $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour (the federal minimum wage remains at $5.15). While that difference meant an additional $1.35 an hour (or an extra $2,808 a year for a full-time worker), earning the minimum wage still means earning only a total of $13,520 a year. That means the current minimum wage annual salary represents only 67.6 percent of the 2006 federal poverty level for a family of four ($20,000) and is just above the threshold for a single parent with one child ($13,200). The increase to $7.50 an hour will result in a pre-tax gross income of $15,600, an additional $2,080.
By 2007, ten states will have automatic cost of living adjustments tied to inflation in place. And, on November 7th, voters in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio approved minimum wage increases that contain automatic annual cost of living adjustments.
In addition, despite predictions from opponents of the minimum wage that its increase would harm the economy, since the higher wage took effect, Illinois has added more than 151,000 new jobs since January 2004, which is more than any state in the Midwest according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Illinois has led the nation in job growth twice this year (April and July), which has never happened before in recorded history, and has been named the third best state in the nation for attracting new and expanded corporate facilities by Site Selection Magazine. Inc. Magazine recently named Governor Blagojevich as the second best Governor in the nation for fiscal policy (Blagojevich was also named the top Governor for health care policy). In addition, unemployment rate has fallen from 6.7 percent in January 2003, when the fight for the higher minimum wage began, to 4.4 percent today.