Both sides react to increase in Illinois minimum wage effective July 1st

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — July 1st marks the beginning of another pay increase for minimum wage workers. While many are excited, others don’t think now is the best time for a pay raise for thousands of Illinois employees.

“I think it’s a good idea the price of everything is going up,” said Freeport resident Jemea Green.

The minimum wage goes up to $10 on Wednesday, but some think the COVID-19 pandemic is the wrong time.

“We do think it really puts pressure on small businesses,” explained the Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says its members are already feeling the effects of the pandemic. Raising payroll expenses is another hurdle in keeping their businesses running.

“Small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open or ever to reopen them again, so if you increase the labor costs at the same time you’re trying to rehire people, it’s just the worst possible combination,” Maisch added.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who campaigned on the $15 minimum wage, says the time is now.

“It’s only been the large business owners, like the Chamber of Commerce, who have brought this up. The truth is, I think the current conditions actually indicate to you, more than ever before, why we need to raise the minimum wage across the state,” Pritzker said.

“It’s kind of hard to support even yourself on $8 or $9…it’s just hard to keep up with little things like that and groceries,” explained Jemea Green.

The wage increase is apart of a multi-year plan. The first pay hike came back in January, bringing the wage to $9.25. By 2025, the minimum wage will be set at $15, but with unemployment at its highest it has ever been, some don’t think it is good timing.

“We’re going to see a much slower return to economic normalcy as a result of more and more small businesses deciding I just cannot make a go of it,” Maisch says.

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