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Illinois becomes latest state to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour
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Illinois becomes latest state to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour

The change will take place gradually between now and 2025

Illinois has become the latest state to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

What's the story?

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a law to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The law will raise the minimum wage periodically along the way, including going from $8.25 to $9.25 on Jan. 1, to $10 on July 1, 2020, and then it will continue to grow by $1 at the start of each year until it hits $15 on Jan. 1, 2025.

Workers under 18 who work for fewer than 650 hours a year will be exempt from this law but will still make $13 an hour beginning in 2025.

None of the state's Republicans voted for the law. They argued that it would force employers to cut hours or staff in order to make ends meet. They also wanted assurances that certain counties could still have lower wages that reflected their lower cost of living.

Minimum wage hikes also increase costs for the state government, since it employs minimum wage employees.

During his speech announcing the new law, Pritzker called the move a "hard-earned and well-deserved raise" and promised that it would "put $6,300 a year into the pockets of nearly a quarter of our state's workforce and billions of dollars into local economies in every corner of our state" over the next six years.

The law would affect an estimated 1.4 million workers.

Chicago already had a $12 minimum wage, which will increase to $13 this summer.

The last governor had vetoed a similar bill

In August 2017, Pritzker's predecessor, Republican Burce Rauner, vetoed legislation that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2022. To back up his decision, Rauner cited a study by the University of Washington that showed that minimum wage workers in Seattle saw their hours drop significantly when wages rose.

The wage increase was a promise Pritzker made when he ran for governor against Rauner in 2018. Pritzker won by a large margin, with 54.2 percent of the vote compared to Rauner's 39.2 percent. Other prominent Democrats, including Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have supported similar legislation.

How many other states have made this move?

While other states have passed similar legislation, none of these laws have fully taken effect yet. For example, California's law will require employers to pay a $15 minimum wage beginning in 2022. For Massachusetts, it's 2023, and for New Jersey, it's 2024.

Individual cities and counties have also implemented $15 minimum wage laws. For example, while on a state level New Jersey's minimum wage is still currently $8.85, Bergen County raised its own minimum wage to $15 in November. New York City has also already instituted a $15 minimum wage requirement for large employers.

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