The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.

Western Courier

Fight for $15 favorable but flawed

Nicholas Ebelhack/Editor-in-Chief

Shannon Norris, Opinions Editor

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When news broke that both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate had approved a proposal to raise the state minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $15 per hour, I was conflicted. Illinois’ most recent increase was in 2010, and it’s evident that the people of the prairie state want a little more in their pockets.

Several questions arise from such a powerful action. I decided to figure out what the true ripple effect of hiking up the wage is.

Now let’s talk about what raising the minimum wage does. A common problem that Republicans tend to voice is that it makes jobs disappear. More specifically, small businesses struggle significantly compared to corporate businesses who can take the hit of increased wages.

Another concern is that businesses will compensate for the loss by raising the price of their products. An article featured on thinkprogress.org by Igor Volsky, Deputy Director from the Center for American Action Fund, writes that this concern, although perfectly sound, does not hold up as we are led on to believe in the real world, stating that, “the overwhelming empirical consensus shows little if any effect of the minimum wage on employment” and uses 23 pages worth of data to confirm his analysis.

Volsky’s findings also list four reactions that employers have when adjusting their business, one being that it improves employee work efficiency. Since they know they’re making more money, they’re more likely to work harder and more efficient.

Since Americans would have more money in their pockets, they’re then willing to spend more, so the demand for services increases, that’s just economics 101. The employee turnover rate is then also lowered, as it becomes much easier for business to recruit and retain employees.

The biggest finding I saw was that the most profound concern among Americans is that prices increase. This is true to an extent. A review of over 30 academic papers on price effects of the minimum wage shows that food prices increased no more than 4 percent and overall prices by no more than .4 percent.

While there is plenty of data that can shutdown many concerns, it still doesn’t give me the full security I would like in knowing that hiking up the minimum wage won’t drastically harm or help our state’s economy. My main concern with $15 per hour is that I think it could be too much.

Just from experiencing daily banter, I feel people are more concern with the minimum wage instead of a livable wage. One quick Google search later, and you can see that in the state of Illinois a livable wage for one adult is $12.56 per hour per data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mix in a child and you need to be making $24.89 per hour to sustain your family.

Even with the bill stating that it will take 5 years to raise the wage to $15, I still feel the hike is just a bit much, maybe enough to hit the tipping point and worsen our economy even more.

The decision to sign the bill into law is up to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner now. Only time will show the full effects of the wage hike. One thing that remains clear is that we don’t need time to tell us that we still don’t have a state budget.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Fight for $15 favorable but flawed