Chicago sets $13 per hour minimum wage, business owners frustrated

by Staff, |
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens as U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the economy, in Cahn Auditorium at the Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University in Evanston October 2, 2014. | REUTERS/Larry Downing

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) -- Chicago's city council approved a plan to raise the hourly minimum wage to $13 during the next five years, according to reports on Tuesday. The rise from $8.25 per hout represents a 57 percent raise, and the move, which comes just months before Mayor Rahm Emanuel's run for reelection in February, has not gone over well with business owners.

The Chicago City Council voted 44-5 for the plan in a special meeting on Dec. 2 after a special committee approved the plan the day before in a 16-3 vote. Minimum wage rates will be raised in steps: $10 an hour in 2015, $10.50 in 2016, $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018 and $13 in 2019, according to the Huffington Post.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the move, though critics said it was done to help curry favor with left-leaning voters as he approaches the February election.

"A higher minimum wage ensures that nobody who works in the City of Chicago will ever struggle to reach the middle class or be forced to raise their child in poverty," he said in a statement Tuesday. "Today, Chicago has shown that our City is behind a fair working wage."

However, some business owners said the move is problematic. Chicago has over 400,000 minimum wage workers, and the raises mean less profit for small businesses that already are struggling.

"How do you go from $8.25 [an-hour] to $13 overnight?" Tom Tunney, the owner of Ann Sather restaurants, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "You know what you do? You raise the prices and you've also got to find ways to do it with less help. That's what's going to happen."

Chicago follows the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, as well as the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington who have all increased minimum wages.