Senator Chuck Weaver released the following statement after the Senate voted 39-18-0 to advance a measure to increase the minimum wage incrementally to $15.00 per hour for standard and tipped employees over a six-year ramp.
“My concern with this measure is the effect of its one-size-fits-all hourly wage on downstate Illinois. Chicago currently has a minimum wage of $13.00, so an increase to $15.00 is not as big an issue for them over six years. Compared to downstate, where the cost of living is 20-40 percent less than in Chicago and the minimum wage starts at $8.25, getting the minimum wage to $15.00 will cost enough more that the likely result will be the lowest-skilled workers being dropped out of the bottom of the workforce.
In the workforce, we have seen employees ages 16 to 19 go from being 45 percent employed in the 1980s to being 31 percent employed today. If they are not employed by age 19 and have not learned basic work skills, there is a good chance they will not get into the workforce easily. At $15.00 per hour, these young people will not have the skills that justify an employer hiring them.
I have also seen and confirmed that robotics have become so effective and inexpensive that I have had employers tell me that they can switch to robotics when employees’ wages go higher than $12.80 per hour. That is an eye-opening statistic. I truly believe employers want to hire local residents, but they cannot be competitive on a global basis if robotics are being used elsewhere.”
Senate Bill 1 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.