By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – The minimum wage in Illinois rose to $11 an hour on Jan. 1 as the state continues its slow march toward a $15 minimum wage, now scheduled to arrive in 2025.
The Illinois Department of Labor is encouraging workers to check their paychecks to see that they are paid at the new rate.
“We want to make sure that workers earning minimum wage are aware that the $1 increase should be reflected in their paychecks for any time they work after the first of the year,” said Michael Kleinik, the department director.
“While we fully expect employers will pay the new wage, we also want workers to be aware of the change,” he said.
From 2010 through the end of 2019, the minimum wage held at $8.25, but with a Democratic governor and legislature in place, it was raised to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020 and $10 an hour starting last July 1. From now on, the rate will go up $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2025.
The minimum wage applies to employers with four or more employees, or domestic workers even if the employer has only one. Other exceptions can be found on the department website, www.labor.illinois.com. Overtime remains time and a half for hours beyond 40 in a week.
Cook County, meanwhile, has a higher minimum rate of $13 an hour, and the city of Chicago minimum is $13.50 for employers with four to 20 workers and $14 for those with 21 or more.
Though just $1 an hour, the increase will mean more money being spent and circulating in the state’s economy, and it will have a substantial cumulative impact and should help boost wages higher up the scale.
YOUNG WORKERS, TIPS
The Illinois Economic Policy Institute at University of Illinois has determined that more than 1.4 million adult employees in the state make less than $15 an hour.
The law allows employers of tipped employees to pay only 60 percent of the minimum wage, but they must also make up the difference if workers are getting less than the minimum wage after tips are taken into account.
For workers under 18 working less than 650 hours a year, the minimum wage will be $8.50 an hour starting Jan. 1 and will rise gradually to $13 by 2025.
A BIG HELP TO STRUGGLING FAMILIES
Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), chief sponsor of the bill raising the minimum wage, said the increase should be a big help to struggling families.
“Even before the pandemic, many working families were struggling. This increase won’t solve all of their problems, but it will surely help,” Lightford said.
Workers who don’t receive the increase should contact the Department of Labor, Lightford added.
“Every year, the minimum wage goes up, and every year, employees need to check their paychecks after Jan. 1,” she said. “Some employers may make honest mistakes, but don’t be afraid to report it if they don’t increase your pay.”