Thursday, March 14, 2013

Businesses React to Proposed Minimum Wage Hike

In his State of the State address last month, Governor Pat Quinn proposed increasing the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 to at least $10.50.  The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce asked its members their opinion on this proposal, and what the impact might be to the regional business community.

Of the 135 responses received by the chamber, 77% were opposed to the increase while 18% were  in favor of it, and 5% had no opinion. 

Based on the overwhelming opposition to the proposal, the Board of Directors of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution of opposition.  The resolution will be sent to Governor Quinn and the Pekin area legislators.

Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Fleming said beyond support or opposition, he also wanted to know what unintended consequences might result if the proposal is passed. 

“Businesses said they would be forced to increase their prices, which would be passed on to consumers," said Fleming.  Many respondents said they would also hire less employees or reduce the number of hours their employees worked.  

"Some said they would have to shift their hiring focus to more skilled employees leaving the lesser skilled workers out of the labor market.  These are unintended consequences that will have an significant impact on the marketplace,” said Fleming.  

Other Chambers of Commerce throughout the region, including Peoria, East Peoria, Lincoln/Logan County, McLean County, Springfield, Canton and Champaign County also conducted surveys with their membership.

Combined, more than 1,150 people responded and the results were overwhelmingly against the proposal - 86% of the respondents were in opposition.  Additionally, 25% said a minimum wage hike will force them to increase prices, 21% said they will have to reduce staff in order to compensate for the wage increase and 21% said wage creep will affect their business negatively.

The current minimum wage increase proposal is SB0068.  It is the same bill introduced last session by Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).  This bill would increase minimum wage 50 cents per year until it reaches $10.50 which is estimated to be comparable to the minimum wage when it was first passed in the 1960’s.  It would then continue to increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

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