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Think Tank Cautions Against Raising State’s Minimum Wage

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A pro-business think tank was warning that a legislative proposal to raise the minimum wage in Illinois would do more harm than good.

Illinois State Sen. Kimberly Lightford has sponsored legislation that would gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to at least $10.25 per hour by 2015, which would make it by far the highest in the nation. Currently, Illinois is ranked fourth, behind Vermont, where it’s $8.46, Oregon, where it’s $8.80, and Washington state, where it’s $9.04.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, said teenagers – especially African Americans – would be hit hard if state lawmakers sign off on raising the minimum wage to $10.55.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports


Dabrowski said 10,000 teens would lose their jobs if the minimum wage reaches that level.

“We think that would be a harm. We think, over the longer term, we want to be much more competitive, attract many more corporations to come to Illinois because of a lower cost of labor and create more jobs for more people.”

Dabrowski cited federal labor statistics that show about half of those receiving minimum wage are between the ages of 19 and 24.

He said many teens work to pay for their educations, or help their families. When labor costs go up, they tend to be the first ones let go by employers, according to Dabrowski.

“When we raise the minimum wage, we just make those people who are just trying to get by, just trying to add to families’ income, we just make it much more expensive, and we squeeze them out of the labor force,” he said. “That, in the end, hurts a lot of people who are actually … trying to make ends meet.”

Dabrowski said he expects to testify against the legislation when it’s brought.

The measure was endorsed by the Senate Executive Committee in May, but has yet to be called for a floor vote by the full Senate. If it is not taken up during an upcoming veto session, the proposal would have to be re-introduced to the new General Assembly after it is sworn in in January.

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